Chennai: Fish sales remain extremely poor

Sunday crowd drops from 15,000 to under 5,000.

Chennai: Apart from falling fish sales, what is fuelling fishermen’s fears is the solid waste from crude oil might settle on the seabed in regions affected by the oil spill, thus hindering fish breeding in the coming months.

“We are thinking of stopping the sale of fish for two days as we have been making losses. Wary of eating fish, People don’t want to buy,” said K Bharathi of the South Indian Fishermen Welfare Association.

“The real problem will be seen a few months later when the solid waste from crude oil will settle on seabed and affect the fish breeding. There won’t be any fish in these areas affected by the oil spill. The Fisheries Department must look into this issue, apart from also taking steps to allay fears of poisoning in fishes,” he continued.

Refuting the claims in media reports, he explained, “Wherever oil was spilled, fishes can’t survive there, so they migrate to other areas in the sea. Also, we fishermen go fishing in the deep seas, not shallow sides.” He went on to add, “We make earnings just enough to spend our day, and now, even those earnings are becoming difficult to make”.

“If the oil mixes with sand, the ball-like structures could settle on the seabed. Bottom feeder fishes and species like prawn and crabs ingest these heavy oils like crude oil in this case, thus affecting their populations and humans who consume them,” said Pooja Kumar of the Coastal Resource Center. “Most of the commercially viable fishes are bottom feeders,” she added.

“The fish we sell arrive from across the country, from Gujarat to Kerala,” said a trader at the Chintradripet fish market, the busiest hub in the city. A place that would be buzzing with buyers and sellers now sees a minimal crowd.

Fish traders and fishermen resent the news reports and those on social media that have sent their sales plummeting for the past one week. Bharathi said: “If the fishes were affected by oil, they would stink. All the catch we have is safe to eat. Sundays, we would have at least 15,000 people visit our stalls, now not even 5,000 have come.”

He lamented that the minimum profit made by anyone among the fishermen on weekends was at least Rs 2,000 each, but for the past two weekends sales have been bad.

Fishermen give away fried fish to allay buyers’ fears

To allay fears of buyers who had been avoiding fish for over a week now after the oil spill, fish traders at the Chintadripet fish market distributed free fried fish to people at different spots in the city.

“The media has been in the fore for spreading that fishes are not good for health post the oil spill,” said S Anbarasan, a fish trader at Chintadripet. On Sunday, many fish sellers and traders came together and sold fried seer fish (vanjaram) to the public in areas like Chintadripet, Mount Road, Parry’s Corner and Egmore.
“We sold at least 5,000 pieces of fish today and people were happy too. People should know that fishes have not been affected by the oil spill as they move to other parts of the sea,” he said.

He added that the Chintadripet fish market gets fishes from states like Kerala, Karnataka, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh but the sales at all spots, including the fishing hamlets as well as this market, have been affected.

With the free fish drive, he hoped to get back the crowds at the market and that the fallen fish sales get back to normal. Much like others in the fishing community, K.Dhesamma, a seller at Marina, used to look forward to weekends as she could earn a lot more money than any other day of the week. There used to be a manifold increase to her profit. But today she was upset, another Sunday, when she couldn’t sell enough fish.

Places near the Ennore port have been worst affected in terms of fish sales. “Twenty hamlets here have not seen any sale for over a whole week. Despite the government making announcements that fishes are safe for consumption, people are still afraid,” said A R Mahalingam, a fisherman at Kasi Koil Kuppam.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
Next Story