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Kerala seafood exporters left high and dry amid lockdown

Kochi, April 21 (IANS) It’s been nearly a month into the nationwide lockout and the otherwise money-spinning seafood exports industry in Kerala has been left high and dry, an industry person said on Tuesday.

Kerala accounts for about 15 per cent of the country’s seafood exports, which was $6.73 billion (R s46,589 crore) in the 2018-19 fiscal.

Speaking to IANS, Alex K Ninan, President of Seafood Exporters Association of India, Kerala region, said things have reached a dead end as far as the industry in Kerala was concerned.

“Every segment of the industry in Kerala is done and dusted since the lockdown began. Boats are lying idle, 400 peeling sheds are closed and so are the factories. We are all wondering what will happen to our business commitments. It’s scary even to think about it,” said Ninan.

“We are experiencing such a disaster for the first time and hence we are just groping in the dark. Now, we are looking at May 3, when the nationwide lockdown is scheduled to end. Assuming that the things are normal thereafter, fishing boats will be able to go out to sea. Then comes up another issue — when will the trawling ban come into effect?” said Ninan.

He pointed out that those who have seafood stock are also in a quandary.

“Officials who inspect stocks are unable to arrive at factories for taking samples. Hence, those with stocks are unable to export. We also have heard of exporters facing payment issues for exports already made. Overall, things are too bad,” added Ninan,

The seafood exporters are now placing their hopes on the Centre and want generous measures with regards to moratoriums and interest waiver.

–IANS

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