Fishermen’s association leader Jesu Raja, heading the association of Rameswaram, Mandapam and Thangachimadam, has said that the state government must fix the prices for fish just like fixing the price for paddy and other produce. He said that export firms were procuring fishes like pomfret, seer and prawns at a paltry rate from the fishermen ranging from Rs 300 to Rs 600 a kilo and selling them in foreign markets at 3 to 4 times the price they buy.
He said that even as the exporters are making huge profits the fishermen who are braving rough weather in the sea and hard conditions get a paltry sum. While admitting that the export market has provided the fishermen with regular buyers, the benefits are very less.
Saju John, who is the president of the All Tamil Nadu Fishermen Welfare Association, told IANS: “Fishermen are always in difficulty. We venture into the sea, catch fish braving rough weather, rough seas and we end up being paid much less. The government can take the initiative and fix the prices for fish just like prices are fixed for paddy and other crops. Of course, if there is a huge catch, the prices will come down but even then the government can fix a price range and not allow exploitation in this field, otherwise, the labour will go waste.”
The association of Tamil Nadu Marine Products Exporters however said that they are making average payment to the fishermen and most important there are regular buyers. Sivashankaran .M of the exporters association told IANS, “At present, there is a proper balance between the fishermen community and the exporters. We are regular customers and we are paying for the fish according to our means. For a catch to be exported it requires a lot of other paraphernalia and hence we need to balance that also. I can vouch that the exporters and fishermen are having a symbiotic relationship.”
He added, “If there is any issue, we can discuss and iron out these differences.”
The fishermen of Tamil Nadu ventured into the sea only on Tuesday night even after the 61 day annual ban ended on June 14 as they had taken time to repair the boats, fishnets etc. Things got delayed as most of the fishermen had not taken even the first jab of the Covid-19 vaccine.
Jesu Raja said, “We ventured into the sea only on Tuesday night as the annual maintenance of fishing nets, mechanical work on the boats, and other necessary maintenance work was not done as Covid-19 has created major problems for the fishermen community. Several of the fishermen were yet to take even the first dose of the Covid vaccine.”