Lockdown could have long-lasting impact on fishing industry
Tuesday, March 31, 2020, 07:00 (GMT + 9)
The forced fishing holiday due to the 21-day lockdown will have a long-lasting impact on the fishing industry in Mangaluru, which is already dented by lesser catch this year.
With investments already made, extension of the lockdown could end the fishing season. Fishermen fear they will be unable to resume operations this season if the lockdown extended as the industry largely depends on labourers from other states. The region has witnessed a steady influx of migrant labourers from Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and Bihar and they may not return immediately.
Umesh Karkera Kulai, boat owner and honorary president, Purse Seine Boat Owners Fishermen Association, said, “When compared to the previous year, there is 30% catch reduction this year. Currently, about 3,000 trawlers and purse seine boats have been anchored at the Old Port. Even if the lockdown period ends, fishing activity will depend on the return of labourers,” he said.
Harish Kumar, deputy director (in-charge), fisheries department, said over 40,000 people in Dakshina Kannada are affected due to the lockdown. This includes labourers, boat owners, ice plant workers, marketing, fisherwomen and workers involved in works like net mending and transportation, he said.
Kumar said a report on the impact of the lockdown will be submitted to the government.
The fisheries sector provides livelihood to a large section of economically backward people in the state and contributes to the nutritional security, employment generation and foreign exchange earnings. According to the Marine Fisheries Census, 2010, Karnataka supports a coastal populace of 167,429 comprising 30,713 fishermen families.
The marine fishing sector in the state has been turbulent during the last decade due factors such as declining catch, imbalance in economic returns between the sectors and high production targeted innovations in fishing practices.
An opportunity to study the impact
Experts feel that the lockdown will help in the reduction of fishing stress.
Dr Prathibha Rohit, scientist-in-charge, ICAR-Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute, Mangaluru Research Centre, said marine fisheries and ancillary activities contribute immensely to socio-economic development. “This unexpected but necessary closure of fishing activities will therefore impact several sectors. This provides an excellent opportunity to study the impact of total closure on fishery as well as on the primary, secondary and tertiary sectors. This will also provide better insight to develop appropriate management measures in the future. Though transportation and sales of fishes is included under essential and perishable commodities, the landing and auctioning of fishes is not considered safe at this point of time,” she added.
The closure would also highlight the need for better hygiene at fish landing centres. Large gatherings in harbours are not allowed and the supply chains are badly affected, said Dr Prathibha.
Author: Deepthi Sanjiv / Times of India