Paradip: Not a single sector has been left unaffected by the coronavirus pandemic and the state’s fishing industry is no different.
Even though five days have passed since the fishing ban ended, not a single fishing trawler has gone into the sea yet.
In fact the All Odisha Fish Producers’ Association had made it clear June 5 that they would not go into the sea unless the government takes a decision with respect to their four demands. Their demands included subsidy on fuel and market for fish.
They alleged all the activities starting from catching fish to their export to foreign countries are a continuous process and they go in a very systematic manner.
Each trawler has seven to ten fishermen. They take seven to ten days for a single fishing process. They do all the activities starting from returning from the sea with fish to selling them together. So it is near impossible for them to maintain social distancing during work.
Due to the lockdown and shutdown restrictions, export of fish has come to a halt. Since traders have also stopped coming to the fish markets, the fish meant for export cannot get their buyers either. Similarly the ice factories cannot operate while maintaining social distancing.
According to trawler owner Rashmi Ranjan Parida, people in his position spend anything between Rs 3 lakh to Rs 5 lakh for a single round of a trawler getting into waters and return with fish. So, the owners prefer not sending trawlers into the sea.
All Odisha Fish Producers’ Association, president, Kameswar Narayan Praharaj said until and unless the government provides subsidy on fuel and create a market for the marine fish, none of them will agree to start fishing.
Agreeing to Praharaj, Odisha Marine Fish Producers’ Association (OMFPA) president Sumant Kumar Biswal said the fishing jetty is usually abuzz with activity between June and March. But the situation this year is no longer the same. Due to trawlers remaining out of business, 50,000 people have been affected alone in Paradip.