Visakhapatnam: The first fishing voyage to the sea has failed to bring cheers to fishermen of the Vizag region.
Mechanized boat operators said they are not earning much due to low catch and low demand for fishes
After the 61-day long deep sea fishing ban of the government ended, the fishermen set sail for the sea on June 16 from Vizag Harbour. Some mechanized boats returned to the harbour with their catch. But they were disappointed as the catch was far below their expectation.
"We went on the first voyage with a lot of hope. But, we could hardly recover our expenses of Rs 60,000 incurred during the 14-day voyage," said PC Appa Rao, president of AP Mechanized Boat Operators' Welfare Association.
Some boats returned with the brown prawn and other popular varieties. "As exporters are not interested to purchase the brown prawn citing low demand, we sold the catch in the domestic market at low prices," said Appa Rao.
Normally, the first outing to sea after the ban fetches returns worth over Rs 4 lakh. But, this time they could manage to fetch catch worth around Rs 2.5 lakh only which is sufficient to meet fuel and other expenses only.
The drop in brown prawn prices has set alarm bells ringing among mechanized fishing boat owners in the Vizag region. The marine food exporters are not ready to shell out more for brown prawns.
Citing that the demand for the Indian farmed Vannamei Shrimp is high in other states and abroad, the seafood exporters are offering low prices and very few are purchasing brown prawns.
"Brown prawn should fetch us at least Rs 420 a kg. Then we will earn some profits. Otherwise, we will incur more losses," said Ch Satyanarayana Murthy, President of Visakha Dolphin Boat Operators' Association
Pollution is the biggest reason for the low catch. Fishermen said due to the untreated effluents released by various industries into the sea, several fish species die and many do not breed. Deficient pre-monsoon rain is also another factor for the poor catch.
The seafood lovers said Silver Pomfret or white pomfret (popular as Chanduva in local parlance) which is a species of butterfish and seer fish (konam in Telugu) have vanished from the market.
Out of 24 exporters in Vizag, only 3 to 5 purchase brown prawn (marine prawn)
Vizag fishing harbour operates over 700 mechanized boats and trawlers
Price of seer fish and silver pomfret range between Rs 700 and Rs1,000 a kg
Andhra Pradesh has been contributes over 45 per cent of the total export revenue in the seafood sector.
Andhra Pradesh exported 2,79,992 MT of marine products worth Rs 15,831.74 crore during 2020-21
Andhra Pradesh exported 2,93,314 MT of marine products worth Rs15,498.64 crore during 2019-2020.