Daijiworld Media Network – Mangaluru (MS)
Udupi/Mangaluru, Dec 3: The coastal regions of Udupi and Mangaluru are grappling with a severe shortage of fish due to adverse weather conditions and a sudden spike in temperatures. This scarcity has led to a significant surge in fish prices.
In Udupi, the fish drought has particularly affected popular varieties such as sardines, mackerels, kingfish, and pomfret, causing prices to double. Big-sized mackerel, for instance, is now priced at Rs 250 per kilo compared to Rs 150-180 last year during the same period. Medium-sized sardines are scarce and cost Rs 200 per kilo. The price of kingfish ranges from Rs 800 to 1000 for larger sizes and Rs 600 to 650 for smaller ones. Pomfret, which was priced at Rs 800-900 per kilo, has now crossed Rs 1400. Silver fish is at Rs 600, and Sting Ray is priced at Rs 400 per kilo. Prawn prices vary between Rs 650, Rs 500, and Rs 350 per kilo.
Fishermen in Udupi express optimism that fish will be abundant in the sea once the weather stabilizes, as the scarcity is attributed to migratory patterns in search of cooler areas deep in the sea.
In Mangaluru, the fish drought is impacting the coastal region as many boats have anchored due to the sudden increase in temperature and inclement weather, resulting in a significant reduction in fish catch. Trawl boat owners emphasize the unavailability of fish in the sea due to rising mercury, prompting most boats to remain ashore.
Donald Pinto, owner of a Pursiene boat, highlights the challenges faced by smaller fishes as they move into deep-sea areas in search of cooler surroundings, leading to an 80% reduction in fish availability. He calls for the Union government to establish clear laws regarding fishing in Kerala sea waters.
Retired dean of fisheries university, Shivaprakash, attributes the shortage to the unfavorable monsoon, stating that if the monsoon extends until October, fish availability increases. Chethan Bengre, owner of the Trawl Boat Union of Mangaluru, notes the high costs associated with fishing trips, including ropes, nets, oil, and diesel, and highlights the impact of the absence of the usual process where fishes come to the surface during cyclones and rain.
Siddaiah, joint director of the fisheries department, reassures that fish scarcity in the sea during November and December is a common occurrence, and abundant availability is expected in January, as is the norm every year.