Paplet fish: Rise in Fish Sales and Fish Prices

KOCHI: Close on the heels of vegetable prices, fish varieties have become dearer by 20 to 30%.

The price of black pomfret has shot up from Rs 350 a kg a month back to Rs 500 now, while seer fish comes at Rs 750, an increase of Rs 150 compared with early November. Even pearl spot prices have skyrocketed from Rs 450 to Rs 600. The prices of fish such as sardine and pink perch (kilimeen) have increased by 5%. However, there is some relief for those who love their rice with mackerel and prawns, as prices of both have been more or less remained steady.

Mohammed Basheer, a fish vendor in Kadavanthra said, "The catch has fallen and most local fishing boats are returning from the sea with lower quantities. Due to this, the availability of local fish is less even though the demand is high. Since the purchasing power of people has gone up, they are now willing to pay more."

Fish suppliers and vendors claim that the prices of fish will increase further. "After December 15, the cost of fish will go up even higher," said Rajeesh M, a fish seller in Ernakulam market, citing continuing heavy rains in Tamil Nadu along with the expected festive season demand.

"One-fourth of the fish consumed domestically come from Tamil Nadu. This is cheaper compared with fish caught here. Locals prefer the local catch as it tastes better," said fish vendor N Muneer. Fish also arrives here from Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.

According to experts, fish landings in the state have seen a steady decrease by around 5% every quarter since 2014.

"Although, it is too early to pinpoint the exact reason for the decline in fish catch, it has been decreasing since last year. There are numerous studies being conducted on changes in seasonal patterns and the subsequent change in breeding and spawning of fishes. Erratic weather patterns like that being experienced in Tamil Nadu now can affect the marine ecology. Unscientific and unsustainable fishing practices and dumping of waste into sea have also contributed to the decrease in fish population and poor catch," said professor Muhammad Rafi of the Kerala University of Fisheries and Ocean Studies.

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