Cyclone Ockhi hits seafood exports in Kerala's Kochi
KOCHI: Cyclone Ockhi has spoiled not only the lives and physical assets of people in the affected areas. It has had a major impact on the country’s seafood business, too. With fishermen keeping away from venturing into the sea for fear of adverse weather conditions, seafood processing plants in Kochi have not been functioning for the past four days.
“Supply of seafood is adversely affected with no fishermen going to the sea because of bad weather. Seafood processing plants in Kochi have not been functioning for the past three-four days as there is no stock to process. It is also not sure when there will be a seamless supply again. However, exporters will have to pay wages for labourers for these days, too. The combined loss of the industry is yet to be assessed,” said Alex K Ninan of Baby Marine International, who is also the president of the Kerala chapter of Seafood Exporters Association of India (SEAI).
What adds to the worry of seafood exporters is the report that the low-pressure area over the south-east Bay of Bengal is likely to become a depression and that it will move towards Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh by December 6.
“Export is already hit. We are not even able to source stock from neighbouring states as boats are not going to sea there also. If there is another calamity, it will be a huge setback for the exports,” Ninan pointed out. “A setback in seafood export would have a serious impact on allied sectors,” he added.
All Kerala Fishing Boat Operators Association General Secretary Joseph Xavier Kalappurakkal said fish landing in three harbours in and around Kochi, where the business of Rs 3 crore used to take place daily, has come down to zero. “No boats are going to the sea these days and it is not sure when we can resume operations,” he said.
For seafood exporters in Kerala, Cyclone Ockhi is the second major blow in just one month. It was in November that the exporters faced a loss of `250- 300 crore owing to a week-long strike called by container trucks. With 1,800 trucks staying off the road for a week, shipping of nearly 300 containers was blocked.