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May 27, 2023 10:31 pm | Updated 10:31 pm IST – KOCHI
The seafood export industry has denied allegations by fishermen that exporters were trying to push down the price of Flower Tail (Poovalan) shrimp, the seasonal harvest which plays a big role in fisheries economics, especially in the traditional sector.
Boat operators had early in May appealed to the Central and State governments and agencies such as the Marine Products Export Development Authority to intervene to take stock of the slump in the price of the shrimp variety. Boat Operators’ Association general secretary Joseph Xavier Kalapurackal had then claimed that the price of Poovalan had come down to around ₹150 a kg from around ₹250 a kg.
But sources in the seafood industry said that one of the key reasons for the poor demand for the sea-caught Poovalan shrimp was that the Japan market was virtually dead. The Japanese are not buying the shrimp. He also denied allegations that seafood exporters were trying to hoard the present catch to utilise it for later exports.
Fisheries Minister Saji Cherian told The Hindu on Saturday that the issue of slump in shrimp price had not been brought to his notice, but he would ensure that the matter was looked into.
Jackson Pollayil of Swathanthra Matsya Thozhilali Federation, an independent fishers’ union, alleged that seafood exporters were trying to push down the price of the shrimp citing reasons such as lack of demand in the export market. He said that the shrimp variety was auctioned off in some fish landing centres at ₹120 a kg, whereas the top price should have been around ₹260 this season as there was a dearth in landings.
He added that the fishing industry relied on the seasonal shrimp catch to stay afloat ahead of the monsoon season. But exporters were trying to throw a wet blanket even over this scarce resource even as they, he alleged, were buying the landings to store for the future.
Seafood industry sources pointed out that most processors had their stocks already full from the earlier season and denied allegations of old storage being replenished in the face of a serious plunge in demand in the export market.
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