KOCHI: Fresh fish has always been a delicacy for Malayalis and that’s what makes the Munambam fish special. The freshness and superior quality of the produce have made it a popular choice and the mushrooming fish stalls sporting the board “Munambam Fresh Fish” is a testimony to this.
Known as one of the model harbours in the country, Munambam has turned a major revenue source. With horizons widening, the Harbour Management Society is trying to brand the fish globally by exploring new export markets. A proposal for a Women’s Shelter by the Coastal Area Development Center is also on the cards.
“What makes Munambam fish special is its freshness. Unlike the fish sourced from distant harbours in Mangalapuram and Goa, the item from Munambam are caught and brought fresh from the Arabian sea. The boats do not stay long in the sea and usually return within two to four days, ensuring that the fish is sold afresh,” says Unnikrishnan, a harbour worker.
The harbour, that swings into action at 4.30 am, supplies a wide variety of fish including tuna, squids, pomfret, perches, seer fish, king fish and pipe fish. The produce is handled in a hygienic environment too.
The Munamabam Fishing Harbour Management Society makes sure the hygienic conditions are top notch. “The people who won the auction to manage the toll booth and market take the responsibility of cleaning the market twice a day,” said Suthan, coordinator, Munambam Fishing Harbour Management Society.
A great turnover
The harbour, which provides for the livelihood of over 4,000 fishermen, will be full of auctioneers during wee hours. “Business to the tune of Rs 3 to Rs 4 crore happen here every day. This is hugely due to the fact that people believe Munambam fish is ammonia-free,” says Jeffoor, a dealer.
However, seasonal changes affect the business. “The catch is less nowadays. We have about 20 boats bringing in fish every day,” Prajeevan, a worker added.
The brand Munambam
The Munambam harbour is also the main source of many industries which makes value-added products like fish oil and fodder for poultry.
“Small fish usually not sold in the market are sent in crates to Mangalapuram every day. They are dried and powdered to make fodder for poultry farms. Essential fish oils are also extracted from the fish,” said Joy, a fisherman.
The produce from the harbour is also exported. “The Munambam fish is exported to different parts of the world, especially to European countries like Germany and Britain because of its high quality,” remarked Jyothi Basu, a native of Munambam. The Munambam fish is distributed to almost all states of North India and South India and even to coastal areas of Pondicherry.
The prices are higher too. “The Munambam fish is superior in quality to fish from other states. Naturally, the Munambam fish would be priced slightly higher over others,” adds Unnikrishnan. Munambam Harbour is also the only harbour with the approval of Export Inspection Agency (EIA).
The Harbour Management Society
The Munambam Harbour was able to bag the honour with the help of Munambam Harbour Management Society which regulates it’s day to day affairs. The society caters to the immediate needs of the harbour with the help of its own fund obtained by annual auctioning. The construction of the new harbour was completed with the Rs 2.6 crore provided by MPEDA. “The society also monitor the activities and helps in meeting the immediate necessities of the harbour like repair works or small construction works, if any. Most importantly, the success of the society is deeply indebted to the co-operation of the local fisherfolks, who are very much understanding,”says Suthan, coordinator of the society