FISHING villages across the city have witnessed a wary hush for days with the demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes hitting their almost entirely cash-based trade. But nearly two weeks later, the fishing industry is slowly regaining momentum in Mumbai, according to fishermen at the Colaba fishing village.
According to Damodar Tandel, president of Akhil Maharashtra Machhimar Kriti Samiti, the fishermen have regained 40 per cent of their usual proceeds from sales but it will still be a long time before things stabilise completely. “The first one week was the worst-hit. Seventy-five per cent of the fishing activities was stopped as there was no cash to facilitate any transaction. However, the sales are improving slowly,” said Tandel.
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In the little fishing village near Sassoon Docks, Rekha Mihir, a fisherwoman, said her family had to resort to either selling their catch on credit or for very low prices. “We mostly sold fish at throwaway prices — after all, something is better than nothing. Also, we do not have adequate storage facilities, so our goods are highly perishable,” said Mihir.
The market at Sassoon Docks, usually crowded in the mornings, continues to see thin attendance of buyers even this week.
Fish like the Bombay Duck, exclusive to the Konkan coast and in high demand, were sold at Rs 5 per kg last week, against a usual price of Rs 35 per kg, but still found few takers.
“The wholesale business was affected the most. The retailers could argue with the customers to pay them in smaller currency notes as they deal with customers who do not buy in large quantities. But we have to bear the transportation cost, as well as other operational costs. In any case, the sales have improved now a little,” said another fisherman. The fishing village in south Mumbai also does not manage to net the catch that fishermen here brought home a decade or so ago.