Fishermen unable to sell entire catch before closing time

The fishing sector that was already hit by delay in diesel subsidy reimbursement and drastic reduction in catch is gasping under COVID-19 restrictions as fishermen are unable to get good price for their catch, within the three hours of morning relaxation window.

The three coastal districts, Dakshina Kannada, Udupi and Uttara Kannada, had robust marine fishing till a few years ago which, of late, has been affected by reduced catch. An increase in the number of deep sea vessels, unbridled marine resources exploitation and environmental pollution have all contributed to reduction in marine resources, according to experts in the field.

With the government enforcing the fortnight partial lockdown from Tuesday night till May 12 with a window for buying essentials between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m., fishermen are finding it difficult to dispose of whatever catch they land in deep sea.

Sanjiv Suvarna, a fishermen working on a deep sea vessel based at the Mangaluru Fishing Harbour, said that they have to return to the harbour only after 6 a.m. and dispose of the entire catch before 9 a.m. The police begin closing down operations from 9 a.m. itself, he said.

Thus, fishermen are deprived of a good price for their catch as there is no bargaining and also, they are in a hurry to dispose it of.

Suvarna wondered why the government which equates fishing with agriculture is not allowing fishing activities throughout the day. The situation is similar in almost all major fishing ports along the coast, including Malpe, Gangolli, Honnavar and Karwar.

Vessels anchored

Many a fishermen has already anchored his vessel due to reduced catch and non-payment of diesel subsidy. The present partial lockdown has only worsened the situation with more and more fishermen intending to halt fishing activities ahead of the monsoon fishing holidays, said Sumith Mendon, another fisherman.

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