Northern fishermen in dire straits after Peliyagoda market closed

By Easwaran Rutnam

Northern fishermen who are dependent on selling large amounts of fish at the Peliyagoda fish market, have been severely affected with the market being closed for just over two weeks.

President of the Ambal Fishermen’s Cooperative of Karainagar in Jaffna K. Rajachandran told Daily Mirror that most fishermen have now decided not to go out to sea as there is no market for fish after the Peliyagoda fish market coronavirus incident.

The Peliyagoda fish market was closed on 21 October after a number of fishermen tested positive for the coronavirus.

Rajachandran said that at least four cooler trucks used to take large amounts of fish to the Peliyagoda fish market daily from four districts in the North.

“Now not a single truck is going there as the market is closed. That is a huge loss for us,” he said.

Rajachandran also said that although some fishermen in the North continue to catch fish they are unable to secure a good price for the catch in the local market in the North.

“Cuttlefish which sells at Rs. 800 is now being sold at Rs. 300. Small fish sold for Rs. 250 or Rs. 300 is now being sold for Rs. 40. And even for Rs. 40 there is no one to buy. Or businessmen will buy it as it is cheap but that is not at all profitable for us. So our fishermen have lost their way of income and are dejected,” he said.

Kayts Fisheries Cooperatives Federation Leader Annalingam Annarasa told Daily Mirror that fishermen in the villages in the North have 1000 kilos of dry fish and no market to sell it.

“With the Peliyagoda market being closed we don’t know what to do. Most fishermen have not gone out to catch fish now. So they have no income,” he said.

Rajachandran said that subject Minister Douglas Devananda had given them an assurance that their issue will be resolved.

He said the Minister has assured that steps will be taken to purchase prawns, crabs and cuttlefish from the North through the Sri Lanka Fisheries Corporation.

However, he says there needs to be a speedy solution as the situation is now dire. (Daily Mirror)