As the fishing season nears its end, coastal fishermen are eagerly awaiting their return to the shore by May 31, in compliance with the imposed ban on mechanized fishing due to the onset of monsoons.

This year has witnessed a remarkable surge in the fishing sector, with estimated revenues reaching an impressive Rs 6,809 crores along the coast, encompassing Dakshina Kannada and Udupi districts. The Fisheries Department has reported a staggering fishing volume of 5,45,618.05 metric tons, reflecting a doubling of business compared to previous years. In the preceding fishing season of 2022-23, Dakshina Kannada district witnessed a remarkable availability of fish, with a total volume of 3,33,537.05 metric tons valued at Rs 4,154 crore. This represents a significant increase from the previous year, which accounted for 3801 crore with a fishing volume of 2,91,812.00 metric tons. In 2020-21, a catch of 1,39,714.04 metric tons, valued at Rs 1,924 crore, was recorded. Udupi district also experienced a surge in the fishing sector, with revenues amounting to Rs 2655 crore during the 2022-23 season. The district witnessed a fishing volume of 2,12,081.00 metric tons, surpassing the previous year’s figure of Rs 1850 crore and 1,80,035.00 metric tons. In 2020-21, Udupi district caught fish worth Rs 1109 crore, weighing 1,04,453.00 metric tons.

Despite the prosperous business, a significant portion of the fishing community is grappling with various challenges. Over 60 boats have already returned to shore without a substantial catch, and the remaining boats are expected to follow suit within the next seven days, commencing a two-month break from fishing activities.

The lack of adequate docking space poses a pressing issue. Mangaluru currently accommodates more than 2,000 boats, including motorized and mechanized vessels. With a length of only 600 meters, the dock can accommodate a mere 350 boats in a single line, forcing the remaining boats to seek alternative areas for mooring. This situation has led to boats forming seven rows, resulting in occasional collisions between wooden and steel vessels. Additionally, concerns regarding sea pollution and the dwindling fish diversity have emerged. The absence of rain over the past three months has disrupted the availability of fish during the typically favorable period of March, April, and May.

Boat maintenance costs, rising fuel expenses, and partnership commissions further burden the fishing community. Shashikumar Bengre, President of the Karnataka Persin Fishermen’s Association, emphasized that the traditional species of fish are no longer as abundant as they once were. To safeguard the breeding season of fish, a fishing ban will be enforced starting from June 1. The ban will last for a total of 61 days in Dakshina Kannada and Udupi districts. Officials from both districts acknowledged the substantial fishing accomplishments this year and emphasized the necessity of allowing the fish population to breed undisturbed during the monsoons.