Kochi, Nov.18 : With global financial crisis gravely affecting the markets around the developed world, fisherfolk in coastal villages of southern parts of India have also started facing a tough time.
Though the hustle and bustle in various fish landing points remain as it was centuries ago, many of the auctioneers have to shout more to sell off the catch. With the reduction on global fish prices, it is a difficult phase for the fishers.The price of high value squids, prawns, cuttlefish, crab auctioned in landing points are much less than they used to be a few months ago. Sometimes the prices go lower than the last year's price. October and November are stated to be the best season of the year for stockists because of festive occasions like Christmas and New Year in European and US markets increase demand for sea foods.
But the general fear here is that the global financial crisis will affect on the demand for fish from India. The declining purchasing capacity of the people in the US, Europe and in other parts of the world, has already made its adverse impact on the exporting sector. "There is a lot of variation in the market, as the material is not moving, so the companies bring down the rates. But even after the low rates, they are facing major problem of dead stock. Many stocking companies have already stopped purchasing from the market. Just for the sake of business and to fetch their employees, they are doing it", says Anil Kumar, a purchasing agent in the Vypin Landing point near Kochi. Even the boat operators complain of not getting the right value for their high priced catch that they bring after facing high risks at deep sea. Cost of production has gone up and their revenues have fallen. Over 500,000 deep-sea boat and trawler operators have to put up with the hike in fuel prices, cost of ice and other expenses. They seek urgent government intervention for helping them out of their problems. "Last year, the same catches fetched 200 rupees per kgs. This s time it has come down by 20 to 30 rupees per kg. The government is also not taking any initiative compared to other states that have proper fish factories, but here no one is bothered for us at all", says Alias P. Jacob, a senior member of the Boat Owner's Association, Kochi. European market is one of the major markets for the state accounting to 35 percent of the total exports after the U.S. and Japan. In 2006-07 fiscal, export of marine products from India was at an all time high of 612,641 tonnes, valued at Rs.83 billion (2.1 billion dollars).
Close to two million people in the country earn their livelihood from the seafood industry. By Juhan Samuel