Exporters deny the accusation that they pushed the shrimp price down

The seafood export industry has dismissed claims by fishermen that exporters are trying to drive down the price of Flower Tail (Poovalan) shrimp, the seasonal harvest that plays a major role in the fishing industry, especially in the traditional sector.

In early May, boat operators had appealed to central and state governments, and agencies like the Marine Products Export Development Authority, to step in to take stock of the fall in the price of the shrimp variety. The Secretary General of the Boat Operators’ Association, Joseph Xavier Kalapurackal, then claimed that the price of Poovalan had dropped from about ₹250 per kg to about ₹150 per kg.

However, seafood industry sources said this is one of the main reasons for the low demand for fish caught in the sea Poovalan Shrimp was that the Japanese market was practically dead. The Japanese don’t buy the shrimp. He also dismissed allegations that seafood exporters were trying to stockpile the current catch for future exports.

Fisheries Minister Saji Cherian said he had not been made aware of the issue of the shrimp price drop but would ensure the matter was investigated.

Jackson Pollayil of the Swathanthra Matsya Thozhilali Federation, an independent fishermen’s union, claimed that seafood exporters are trying to drive down the price of the shrimp, citing reasons such as lack of demand in the export market. He said the shrimp variety was auctioned at some fish landing centers for ₹120 per kg, while the peak price this season should have been around ₹260 due to a lack of landings.

He added that the fishing industry relies on seasonal shrimp fishing to stay afloat ahead of the monsoon season. But exporters tried to throw a wet blanket over this scarce resource as well, while he claimed they were buying up the landings to store for future use.

Seafood industry sources pointed out that most processors had already replenished their stocks from the previous season, denying claims that old stocks were being replenished amid a serious drop in demand in the export market.

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