THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The livelihood of fishermen were hit badly by the India Meteorological Department’s recent directive banning deep-sea fishing. Restaurants who sell seafood varieties and online sites that sell fish catch of the day are also struggling with the lack of availability of fish.
Fishing in the sea has been banned until further notice due to the change in wind speed along the coast of Kerala, Lakshadweep and Karnataka. Wind speed, which was at 40-50kmph, could go upto 60 kmph, disrupting the fishing cycle. Lawrence, 65, a Vizhinjam fisherman, told TNIE that he would have normally ignored the warning and went into the sea, but since Cyclone Ockhi hit the Kerala coast in November 2017, he is scared. “I lost several friends and family members. Since then, I don’t go fishing in the deep sea when there is turbulence,” said Lawrence.
If 100 small boats ventured into the sea by dusk and returned with catch during dawn earlier, barely 10 boats do that now. This is affecting the inventory of small-scale online fish sites badly.An online retailer, who has been selling fresh catch through WhatsApp for a month nowl, told TNIE that that fish from Tuticorin that is atleast a month old is hitting the markets and restaurants now.
“I haven’t sold any fish in the last six days. The number of boats bringing fish has reduced significantly. They are charging exuberant prices too. Earlier, I used to buy one basket of mackerel for Rs 4,000. But now, it is priced at Rs 6,000 or more. It is not even economical to buy fish at this point, so I have paused sales till the rains subsede,” he said.
Kadaloram restaurant, Vettucaud, is quite famous among fish lovers in the city. Its owner, Saju Ambrose, has been purchasing fish from local beaches like Vizhinjam, Mariyanadu, Veli, Poonthura, Vettucaud, and Shangumugham.
“A week ago, I bought mackerel at Rs 32 - 35 per kilogram. But on Wednesday, I got it for Rs 56. Also, I stopped providing fish head curry (thalacurry) to our clients as it is not economical. The price of one kilo of king fish has gone beyond Rs 1,000,” said Saju.