Agri Business

With fish meal units refusing to end strike, Kerala boat operators in dire straits

V Sajeev Kumar Kochi | Updated on August 28, 2019

Demand for certain fish varieties has fallen drastically   -  The Hindu

The demand was almost 40 per cent down

The strike by fish meal industry since August 1 has forced manufacturing companies to refrain from purchasing fish from landing centres, leading to a subdued demand for certain fish varieties in the domestic market.

The demand was almost 40 per cent down and this has resulted in drop in prices of certain pelagic varieties such as sardine, mackerel, cuttle fish, lizard fish, threadfin breams (kilimeen) etc, said Joseph Xavier Kalappurackal, general secretary of All Kerala Fishing Boat Operators Association.

Drop in demand

He claimed that the declining demand has forced many fishing boat operators to throw tonnes of fish back into the sea.

According to Xavier, the fish meal industry strike has come at an inopportune time as August to October is the season of good fish landings after the lifting of trawling ban. The dwindling industry need has forced boat operators to look at the internal market, but a muted domestic demand, coupled with ice shortage to keep bulk quantities of fish for a longer shelf life, is posing a major problem.

He said the fish meal industry consumed around 40 per cent of the landings from various fishing harbours in Kerala. The association has urged the industry to withdraw the strike at the earliest, as it is affecting the livelihood of lakhs of workers dependent on the sector.

Drop in demand

T Mohammed, proprietor, Aquanosh Marine Products India Pvt Ltd, Kannur, said the six fish meal industries in Kerala together procure around 1,000 tonnes of pelagic variety fishes daily from various landing centres and of this, the intake of each unit was around 100-150 tonnes.

Sardines are the most preferred variety for fish meal production because of its high oil content. The strike has forced companies to stop procurement, leaving boat owners to focus on domestic market, where demand is down, he said. As many as 56 fish meal industrial units in Kerala, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu are on an indefinite strike since August 1 in protest against GST imposition on fish meal and related products.

Aquatic feed

Fish meal and other similar products such as flours, meals and pellets of fish are major ingredients for aquatic feed manufacturing. Fish meal is processed from fish, fish varieties unfit for human consumption, excess leftover after meeting human consumption and also from offals from fish processing units, said Davood Sait, national secretary, All India Fish Meal and Oil Manufacturers and Merchants Association.

Fish meal industry is a decent source of livelhood for thousands of jobless and illiterate people, he added.

Published on August 28, 2019

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