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Fishing boats in Kerala. (Photo Credit: Ravindraboopathi/CC BY-SA 3.0)

Cyclone harms Kerala seafood sellers and exporters

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Wednesday, December 06, 2017, 23:10 (GMT + 9)

Sardine and mackerel landings have dwindled in Kochi, Kerala, since fishermen were advised not to venture into sea in the wake of cyclone Ockhi hitting the state's coasts.

After the recommendation given by the Fisheries Department, the lack of availability of these fish and others was mainly felt in the Ernakulam market, The India Times reported.

According to wholesale fish dealers at the market, even if fishermen go into the sea, the catch will not be enough and seafood prices will likely shoot up as a result, which is really concerning to them given the festive season is coming.

“Seafood processing plants in Kochi have not been functioning for the past three-four days as there is no stock to process. It is also not sure when there will be a seamless supply again. However, exporters will have to pay wages for labourers for these days, too. The combined loss of the industry is yet to be assessed,” said Alex K Ninan of Baby Marine International, who is also the president of the Kerala chapter of Seafood Exporters Association of India (SEAI).

Meanwhile, freshwater fish like pearl spot (karimeen), red snapper (chembally), banded snakehead (varaal), prawn, shrimp, tilapia, yellow catfish (manja koori), orange chromide fish (pallathy) mystus (koori), tank goby (poolan), tiger panchax (poonjan) and walking catfish (mushi) are available in the markets.

In this regard, V D Majeendran, vice-president of Independent Fish Workers Federation, pointed out that the cost of other freshwater fish have also shot up and that due to lack of sardine and mackerel, the demand for river fish has gone up overnight.

In addition to local markets, seafood exporters have become concerned over the lack of landings.

“Export is already hit. We are not even able to source stock from neighbouring states as boats are not going to sea there also. If there is another calamity, it will be a huge setback for the exports,” Ninan pointed out. “A setback in seafood export would have a serious impact on allied sectors,” Ninan added.

All Kerala Fishing Boat Operators Association General Secretary Joseph Xavier Kalappurakkal said fish landing in three harbours in and around Kochi, where the business of INR 30 million (USD 465,000) used to take place daily, has come down to zero.

For seafood exporters in Kerala, Cyclone Ockhi is the second major blow in just one month. It was in November that the exporters faced a loss of INR 2500- 3000 million (USD 38.8-46.5 million) owing to a week-long strike called by container trucks. With 1,800 trucks staying off the road for a week, shipping of nearly 300 containers was blocked.
 
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