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March 15, 2020

Sindh fishermen see sales drop on coronvirus fear


March 15, 2020

HYDERABAD: Coastal fishermen in Sindh are feeling the pinch after a drastic reduction in orders of prized marine species by traders on coronovirus fears.

Fishermen, catching mud crabs, marories (razor clam) and other edible snails are unable to find buyers in the local markets, reports gathered from Thatta and Sujawal districts showed

Coronavirus, which has damaged the trade activities across the world, has also affected the local markets in Sindh,” one fisherman said. Buyers, usually export crabs and marories to various countries, are missing from the market for past several days.”

Young fishermen of different coastal areas usually rely on catch of mud crabs and edible snail species, mainly marories, due to inspiring demand, but now the situation has compelled the community to stay idle at homes.

Noor Muhammad Thahimor from Jati neighbourhood said that traders do not buy these items because, in their understanding, there is no demand of it in Karachi, which is considered major market for export of these species. Due to this, a large number of people, associated with the work have been left in hapless situation.

Recalling the recent past, Thahimor said that local traders used to travel long distances to buy these products from local jetties, helping them generate a good source of income. However, due to sudden move, hundreds of families have lost their source of income, he said.

Thahimor belongs to a coastal village, whose dwellers being vulnerable to face ups and downs in the Arabian Sea, have been receiving warning alerts whenever cyclones develop anywhere in the sea waters.

He said coronavirus, which was first detected in parts of China is now spread across the globe, putting bad impact on the livelihood of a large number of fishermen in Sindh.

Gulab Shah, another activist from Keti Bunder in Thatta district, said, on the one hand, the fishermen community has lost their source of income they generate through catch and sale of mud crabs and marories, and, on the other, the catch of commercial seafood species such as shrimps and fish has also been declined.

He quoted elderly fishermen saying since the recent frequent cyclones the situation in the seawater is not favourable for fish catch. Citing an example, he said, previously traditional fishing boats used to bring 1,000kg to 2,000kg shrimps, but now the same bring hardly 100kg to 200kg, depending on the situation.

In this scenario, the crew members cannot get reasonable wages and share due to the heavy cost of fuel and travel of the vessels, he added.

After the effects of cyclone Kyar; followed by high tides, the situation is worsening for the fishermen in terms of catch and sustainability.

It is a common phenomenon being faced by the entire community depending on the catch of fish, crabs and snail species. This may have longtime effects on the livelihood of the communities, Shah added.

It is a fact that the fishermen in the coastal areas of Thatta and Sujawal districts do not cook and consume these mud crabs and maroris; there is no demand of these species locally. Only a few families in Karachi cook these seafood species.