MANGALURU: With fishing being banned in the East Coast for the breeding period up to June 14, the prices of Mackerel may go up further after a lull in the fishing period this season, confirm experts.
The fishing season, in general, has been dull. Sources in the Fisheries department claim that nearly 50 per cent of the 3,173 fishing boats in Mangaluru which include Purse Seine, Trawl, Gillet and traditional boats, had been kept aside due to lack of fish in the sea.
"Additionally, there is a reduction in catch in April-May," said Manjula, assistant director of the department of fisheries here.
This reduction is likely to further intensify with a large number of catch set to be sent to Chennai, whose major sources of fish during the ban period are said to be from Kochi and Mangaluru.
"Mangaluru supplies negligible amount of fish to Chennai. However, the ban will bump the supply up to 60 tonnes a day," said deputy director of Fisheries Mahesh Kumar.
Besides this, Chennai, which is also a major supplier of fish to Bengaluru, will be replaced by Mangaluru, which will double its present supply of 30 tonnes to the state capital.
"The only implication of increased export of fish over the years have been to the local fish drying and curing, which now receives 11 per cent of the catch as opposed to the 30 per cent earlier," Mahesh said.
However, speculations are rife that prices in the local market will increase just minimally as the market for fish is highly price-sensitive. "Besides, only if there is a supply of large amounts of a certain fish, the traders will export it to other states," said Pratiba Rohit, HOD of Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute.
While sources from the boat association claim Mackerel has great demand in Chennai, Manjula from fisheries confirms an overall reduced catch of Mackerel and Sardines for the season.
"The reason is unscientific fishing for the last five years," says Purse Seine Boat Union president Mohan Bengre. There are restrictions for deep sea fishing by the central government on trawls and light fishing in deep sea. However, surveillance in the deep sea remains a problem.
"It is the coastguards' mandate to keep a check on destructive fishing practices. However, they mostly focus on security and oil spills," said Prof Ramachandra from Fisheries College.