Soaring diesel prices, low prawn rates puts AP fishing trade in troubled waters

The price for tiger prawns is also untenable as exporters have brought down the price from Rs. 1,200 per kg to Rs. 980. Similarly, the price of seer fish price has dropped to Rs. 600 per kg from Rs. 800, Mr. Surada said.

By Newsmeter Network  Published on  25 Nov 2022 2:30 AM GMT
Soaring diesel prices, low prawn rates puts AP fishing trade in troubled waters

Visakhapatnam: The fishing trade along the Andhra Pradesh coast is in troubled waters as fishermen have been facing losses as a syndicate of shrimp processing and exporting companies have brought down prices for the yield.

The fishermen are reeling under the impact of spiraling prices of diesel and low prices of their catch. This has resulted in over 40% of the mechanised fishing boats in the state being anchored.

Though the majority of the fishing boats are returning with a catch of prawn, their price is dipping. While a few boats are returning with a low quantity of popular varieties of fish, their prices are also not encouraging.

General secretary of Dolphin Boat Operators' Welfare Association, Satyanarayana Surada, said that majority of the seafood exporters have stopped purchasing the brown prawn, white prawn, and flower prawn as they have been giving priority to the Vannamei variety. The seafood exporters have fixed the price of a kg of brown prawn at Rs. 440 and the price of white and flower varieties prawn at Rs. 420, which is untenable, he said. "Exporters are more focused on Indian-farmed Vannamei shrimp which has demand in other states and abroad. If we get at least Rs. 500 per kg for brown, white, and flower prawns, we will get some profits," he added.

The price for tiger prawns is also untenable as exporters have brought down the price from Rs. 1,200 per kg to Rs. 980. Similarly, the price of seer fish price has dropped to Rs. 600 per kg from Rs. 800, Mr. Surada said.

Rising expenses, shrinking revenues

There are over 2,500 mechanised boats in Andhra Pradesh (Vizag, Kakinada, Machilipatnam, Vadarevu, Kalingapatnam, and others). Diesel is a key component for the fishing industry to run the mechanised boats. For each voyage (12 to 15 days), boat owners must invest at least Rs. 4 lakhs to Rs. 6 lakhs due to the increased prices of diesel, groceries, and ice.

Fishermen said mechanised boats use up to 4,500 litres of diesel per deep sea voyage and in many cases, boat owners lament that they are incurring losses due to the high price of diesel and low price for their shrimp. Though the fishermen are getting diesel at Rs. 91 per litre (subsidised price), they pointed out that if they get diesel at Rs. 75 per litre, they may get some profits, said M. Laxman, a boat owner in the Vizag region.

"My boat came back from the trip with a catch of brown prawns (600 kgs), some fish, and a small quantity of tiger prawns. I have sold the entire catch at Rs. 3.2 lakhs whereas I have invested over Rs. 3.7 lakhs for the voyage," said V. Appa Rao, another boat owner.

Over 40% of the mechanised boats have been anchored in parts of the state due to losses. At present, around 55% of boats are operating. If the situation continues like this, the remaining boats will be anchored after January, the fishermen added.

KEY POINTS

· Andhra Pradesh exported 2,79,992 MT of marine products worth Rs. 15,831.74 crores during the financial year 2020-21.

· Andhra Pradesh exported 2,93,314 MT of marine products worth Rs. 15,498.64 crores during 2019-2020.

· AP contributes at least 45% of the total export revenue in sea food export in the country.

· The price of tiger prawn range between Rs. 950 and Rs. 980 a kg.

· Brown prawn fetches Rs. 420 to Rs. 450 a kg.

· Each boat requires at least 4,000 litres of diesel for a voyage.

· Out of 700 odd mechanised boats in Vizag harbour, around 40% have been anchored due to losses.

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