Fishermen in Balasore seek government support for Pomfret

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Balasore (Orissa), Sep.17 : Several fishermen in Orissa's coastal Balasore want that the government should make necessary arrangements to facilitate export of the local Pomfret fish, as it holds a bigger market in Asian countries and beyond.

Despite having a high demand for Pomfret fish in the international market, most of these fishermen have so far been managing things by selling these fish in local markets or nearby cities.

Fishermen in Balasore net about 25 tonnes of Pomfret (locally called Chandi) on an average day during winter. They believe that absence of a proper outlet for exporting the marine produce outside Orissa has limited their earnings.

Fishermen venture onto the high seas off Balasore to catch Pomfret.

At Balaram Gari, a fishing centre at Balasore District, around 350 registered and another 500 unrecognised trollers venture into the sea.

Owners of the trollers, however, take interest in prawn (locally called Jhinga fish), Pomfret and Ilici fish. Even if there is good demand for Jhinga fish, the demand for Pomfret has also tremendously increased in the international market in the recent times.

Pomfret fish comes in two varieties-Black Pomfret and Silver Pomfret.

Silver Pomfret has a high demand. It is supplied to Mumbai, Delhi and Chennai within the country and in abroad to Singapore, Malaysia, China and other countries in rest of the world.

One can find a large number of silver Pomfret during winter (Aug. to Dec.).

Generally, a silver Pomfret weighing 400 gm is sold for rupees 500 per kilogram. And, the Pomfret weighing between 100 to 700 grams is used for export. But the due to unavailability of proper outlet or organsation for export of these fish, the local traders don't get good value.

Local fishermen say that the Pomfret fish do not receive as much attention as it is given to prawn, which has been in demand for a long time.

They want facilities to process the fish and ship it to different parts of the world.

Local fishermen say the demand for Pomfret is increasing.

"For the pass six to eight years the demand for Pomfret has been increasing. Besides Jhinga (prawns) we are concentrating more on Pomfret, as it gives good business next to Jhinga (or, the prawns). Pomfret," said Birendra Pradhan, one fisherman.

Pomfret is in demand in Kolkata, Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Chennai.

It also has a big potential in many Asian countries like Singapore, Malaysia and China.

"We purchase the fish from godowns and send the supply through train to Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai as per demand. We also export Chandi (Silver Pomfret) to Singapore, Malaysia and even to China, selling approximately at the rate of rupees 300 per kilogram on average days and during Chinese festival, the rates can go up to rupees 800 per kilogram," said Javed, a trader.

These kinds of fish are seasonal fish. However, they are available through out the year at an average of 15 to 20 percent of the total catch during peak time.

"We catch Pomfret fish throughout the year. But the peak season is during winter.. This lot is sold through Kolkata wholesale market for consumption in metropolitan cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai as well as for exporting them to the Asian countries like Japan, China, Philippines. The rate in export, the boat owners as well as the troller are getting is rupees 150 to 400 per kilogram, depending upon the size and weight of the Pomfret," said Balaram Dandapad, Assistant Director, Marine Fisheries, Balasore.

"In near future, the Government will introduce a Pomfret culture in the Brasada sector after the setback of fishing culture in Barsoda sector. If this programme is successful, the production of Pomfret will be more. The fisheries and the fish farmers will be benefited."

Traders feel that authorities should give more importance to the trading of Pomfret fish, on the lines of support given to Jhinga (prawns). By Sarada Lahangir

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