NAGAPATTINAM : Amid the risk they take while fishing for tuna, which is said to have medicinal value, the fishermen here have to contend with agents who quote a low price for the prized catch — `45 per kg — while the same fetches a handsome amount in countries like Sri Lanka and elsewhere.
As people believe that tuna could cure masculinity disorder and high cholesterol, there is a good market for them. But the fishermen here claimed that fishermen in other countries sell a kg of export quality tuna at `250.
“Because these fish have medicinal value, the agents are keen on getting the variety. Mid-January is the time when there is a sizeable quantity of tuna available in the deep. Last month, we set out to sea and we returned to the shore with tonnes of the variety, but the agents are hesitating to quote any more than `45 per kg,” said fisherman Saravanan
According to him, Lankan fishermen sell the tuna for `250 per kg and are happy to fish not more than 100 kg, but Indian fishermen do not return even if they net 500 kg. “We have to go deep into the sea for a good catch, the fish is found at a depth of 500 m. For this, we need to spend up to `3 lakh on diesel and other things while sailing. Each tuna weighs between 1 kg and 20 kg,” Saravanan further said.
He said the Fisheries Department should come forward to acknowledge that outside India, people were willing to pay more for the fish. Besides, the department should regulate agents.
When contacted, Amal Xavier, Fisheries Department joint director, said, “The way Sri Lankan fishermen preserve tuna is different from what our fishermen do. After catching the fish, the Lankans refrigerate the same in minus zero degree Celsius. After that, the catch is sprayed with a solution and stored in ice. This ensures the fish stays fresh, fetching a good price”
The Tamil Nadu government is ready to provide subsidy of upto `30 lakh for upgrading the boats the Indian fishermen use, but the latter are not interested, Amal Xavier said.