Bhubaneswar, Oct 20 (LocalWire): Each time the sky turns overcast, the loss of bread and butter overcomes Rajib Mondal, a sea-going fisherman from Dhamra fishing village in Bhadrak district of Odisha.
The 39-year-old fisherman, with five members dependent on his income, had to let go his voyage to the sea with weathermen forecasting inclement weather and a rough sea.
Mondal sits idle waiting for the sky to brighten up so that he can resume his journey to the deep for his livelihood.
Like Mondal, thousands of marine fishermen scattered across the coastal state are bearing the brunt of frequent formation of low pressure and depression along the 480-km-stretch of coastline.
With weather playing spoilsport, the number of fishing days of sea-going fishermen is going down affecting the fisheries-regulated economy of the sea-side coastal villages.
For an estimated 4.5 lakh people in the state, sea-fishing is the only source of income. They are hit hard by low pressures and depression.
‘These are natural phenomenon and beyond anyone’s control. But its frequency has become more pronounced in the past years, making sea fishing no more a viable livelihood option,’ said marine fishermen union’s representative, N Taleya, from Ganjam district.
The fisheries-regulated economy along the coastal villages is bearing the brunt of both government-imposed prohibitory regulations and natural factors.
Every year, the state government clamps a seven-month-long ban on sea-fishing in a 20 km radius stretching from Dhamara to Devi river mouth.
In accordance with the Odisha Marine Fisheries Regulatory Act, 1983, the prohibitory order on sea fishing (1 November to 31 May) remains in force to ensure the safety of breeding turtles that perish in large numbers either by getting entangled in mono-filament fishing nets or after getting hit by propellers of fishing trawlers. Besides fishing prohibition is clamped every year from 15 April to 31 May in view of the fish breeding season.
‘Even after the withdrawal of prohibition, sea fishing is being frequently disrupted owing to frequent formation of low pressure and depression and the rough sea is not conducive for fishing.
Add to that the woes of dispute between exporters and trawl-operators leading to fishing bans,’ said Tushar Sardar, a representative of fishermen’s union.
The fishermen in Bhadrak, Kendrapara, Jagatsinghpur and parts of Puri district are the worst hit, affected both by the government’s fishing ban and recurring natural calamities.
In other parts where there is no ban on fishing for turtle conservation, fishing activities usually last for seven to eight months.
However, weather and unsteady sea has brought down sea fishing days to three to four months, Taleya said.
To corroborate his point, he said, ‘In the past 45 days, we lost around 20 to 22 days as low pressure rendered sea fishing a risky proposition.’
With Cyclone Fani battering Puri, the fishermen suffered the most.
With boats, nets and fishing equipment blown into smithereens by the storm, the fishermen are still come to terms as the compensation by the government was inadequate and many of the affected fishermen have not yet received the doles, he said.
Frequency of bad weather and low pressure formation is going up in recent years. It’s a global phenomenon. Apart from Odisha, all other coastal states are also experiencing such weather conditions.
Fishermen have to slowly adapt to the changing trend, said Dr. Sarat Chandra Sahu, Director of Centre for Environment and Climate (CEC) of SOA Deemed to be University.