India Deep sea fishing operations come to a standstill

India Deep sea fishing operations come to a standstill The steep hike in mid-sea bunkering oil prices and sharp fall in shrimp prices have brought the deep sea fishing operations at the Visakhapatnam fishing harbour to a standstill. Vizag is the headquarter for deep sea fishing industry in the country from the last several years.

“Currently, about 25 trawlers and 15 mini-trawler operators are engaged in shrimp and Tuna fishing operations. But owing to abnormal increase in oil prices and sudden fall in shrimp prices, most of the operators have decided not to go on voyages till the oil prices are reduced,” S K Aggarwal, president, Association of Indian Fishery Industry (AIFI), and managing director, Sagarika Sea Crafts Limited, which has a licence for mid-sea bunkering business in Indian waters, told Business Standard.

Previously, oil prices occupied about 70 per cent of the total operational costs. But now due to hike in prices, oil expenditure itself is occupying about 85 per cent of the total costs. In these circumstances, it is very difficult for us to run the trawlers, he said.

About one-and-a-half-year back, fuel prices were about $254 per metric tonne. It shot up to $500 by April 2005 and now has zoomed to $600 per metric tonne. Post-Katrina, the fuel prices have increased by $9 per barrel within one week.

“Trawlers, which are in mid-sea for fishing, have started coming to the shore one by one after their 35-40 days voyage. They will not go for fishing until oil prices become normal,” he said.

Apart from the increase in oil prices, the shrimp purchasing prices too have fallen by 10-15 per cent over the last 15 days. “In August, exporters paid Rs 200 per kg of tiger shrimp but now they are offering only Rs 165 per kg,” he said, adding, “Already 60 per cent of trawler operators have stopped operations.”

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