CUDDALORE: With snail meat catching up with restaurants in the coastal villages in the state and demand from domestic and export markets rising, fishermen in Cuddalore have seen their pockets becoming fatter. As a blessing in disguise, snails are conspicuous by their absence in other parts of the state.
Snail meat is processed and their shells are used by paint companies as they are rich in calcium. N Somanathan from Cuddalore Old Town was seen busy in counting the day’s catch in the wee hours of Sunday -- the last day of the breeding season. The export market is ticking so also the new-found love for snail meat by restaurants and liquor shops in Pondicherry.
Catching snails is a time-consuming affair and requires physical stamina to hold on for long hours in the deep sea. Due to this, many do not take it up as a vocation.
Besides, large nets are needed which call for special skills, said V Ramanathan, while segregating the catch based on their size and the texture, which have a say in their prices.
Speaking to Express, E Daniel, who heads a six-member crew, said that his day’s catch includes those snails which are sold in the outside market with the prices hovering around `50 per kilogram. It is reported that snail meat is rich in protein and has many health benefits. Due to this, there are many takers for it.
Three varieties of snails are found in the area. They are: vellai muli, nellikkai and jollikkira muli. Those meant for the export market is cleaned by boiling to take out the calcium-rich shells, which go to the paint industry. Snails are found in Karaikal, Puducherry, Nagapattinam and Cuddalore.