Paradip: With the two-month long fishing ban lifted, Paradip harbor — one of the largest fishing harbours in the state — is again abuzz with activity. Thousands of fishermen in about 700 trawlers and mechanised boats sailed into the waters Friday midnight.
Odisha government usually clamps a fishing ban between April 15 and June 14 to ensure a safe and hassle free breeding of sea fish. The ban goes a long way in increasing fish population.
During this ban period, the fishermen never go into the water. With no alternative income source, a large section of the community finds it difficult to make the both ends meet. They keep waiting for the ban to be lifted.
As the ban has been lifted, seafood exporters of the state have opened their offices and collection centers to purchase fish and prawn from the fishermen. So is the case of the fish merchants from West Bengal who have already arrived here to buy fish from the fishermen.
The trawler owners and the fishermen know from their experience that they would have a bumper catch this month.
While it does not mean that there will be a decrease in fish population after one month, weather is likely play a spoilsport.
If there is any forecast of bad weather condition, it is the fishermen and trawler owners that are to suffer the loss. In such cases, they are warned not to venture into the sea. Even if those – that are in the water are advised to return to the shore. So the fishermen are left with no choice but to return with their trawlers.
If they have to return back, the owner of the trawler cannot even get the price spent on fuel and ice. A trawler can go to sea maximum 20 to 22 times in a year. In local language they call a single journey into the water a voice (voyage).
Arabinda Swain — a trawler owner — says that a trawler owner usually spends Rs 3 to 4 lakh for a single voice. The expenditure also included wages and other associated expenses of seven fishermen because the fishermen who have gone with the trawler have to stay in the sea for seven to ten days.
If these fishermen return with the trawler midway due to bad weather condition, it costs dearly to a trawler owner.
The trawler owners used to rake in bucks in the past years as there used to be fish in abundance. But for last few years, a sharp decrease is being noticed in fish population due to increased industrial pollution and rapid change in atmosphere.
“These days sailing trawlers into the sea is just like a gamble. If they return with good catch, it is ok. Or else, each voyage is fretted with loss of fear,” an owner claims.
This apart, fear of beaching is always there at the mouth.
The elder and experienced fishermen cannot move to other profession and at the same time present generation is not interested to take up fishing as profession, observes Odisha Maritime Fisheries Association (OMFA). At the same breath, it adds that sea fish remains the most favourite food option for a vast majority of non-vegetarians.