Annual trawling ban comes to an end


Govt. intervention sought to end demand for higher discount

The All Kerala Fishing Boat Operators Association has appealed to the State government to step in and prevent “exploitation” of fishers by buyers and agents who are allegedly demanding up to 16% discount on the auction price of fish landings even as the annual trawling ban ended on Saturday midnight.

The boat owners alleged that the agents had threatened not to buy the catch if the discount offered on auction price was not hiked to 16%.

President of the association Peter Mathias and general secretary Joseph Xavier Kalapurackal said agents were demanding that the present “auction discount” of 13% be raised to 16%.

The auction discount works against the interest of fishers, said the boat owners. The practice is that if the catch in a boat is auctioned for ₹100, the discount that is being now offered to the wholesale agent is ₹13. The agents now wants ₹16. The rate of discount varies from harbour to harbour.

However, V.A. Nazar of All Kerala Fish Merchants and Commission Agents’ Association said the market situation had changed drastically in the wake of the COVID-19 and that the demand for 16% discount was not a new one.

Fish merchants and agents were in dire financial difficulty and that the demand for the discount was justified, he claimed. He said that the COVID-19 protocol had disrupted the normal auction process at fish landing centres and harbours.

Mr. Kalapurackal said buying agents had said that fish sales could be disrupted from August 1 if the enhanced discount was not implemented. He alleged that fish buyers from outside were not being allowed to purchase from the landing centres and harbours.

The boat operators’ demand is that the fishing community should be freed from the “exploitation of middlemen” so that the fishers get the true value for their labour. They pointed out that each fishing expedition had turned extremely costly with the price of diesel going up drastically during the last one year. The traditional fishers are in no position to bear the fuel price hike.

Meanwhile, sources in the Thoppumpady fishing harbour pointed out that no demand had been raised for auction discount hike by buyers in the harbour. There are around 200 trawler boats, 800 long liners and gillnet boats as well as 65 purseine boats operating out of Thoppumpady harbour.


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