Wayanad fish lovers spurn pricey marine fish, queue up for fresh catch from Kabani

As marine fish landings become low due to trawling ban and prices go skyward, Wayanad is turning to fresh water fishes this monsoon. Photo: Special arrangement

Kalpetta: Nutter and Basa have pipped sardines and mackerels in Wayanad. As marine fish landings become low due to trawling ban and prices go skyward, Wayanad is turning to fresh water fishes this monsoon. Demand has risen for freshwater fishes from the Karapuzha Dam, Kabani River and the Kabini Reservoir at Bechnahally in Karnataka. Temporary vendings units have popped up along the banks of the river.

The varied fish items including Nutter (Red Bellied Pacu), Basa (Vala), Carp (Chemballi), Rohu and Katla are the fish items that are available in abundance in the local market. '' Earlier we had consumed sea fish which would not be fresh, but now we have good catch from the freshwater which is just hours old,'' said Satheesan Nair, a native of Pulppalli.

The border town of Pulppalli is a bee hive of activity as the fresh catch from the Kabani River and the Beechanahalli Dam in Karnataka first reaches the city and is transported to other parts of Wayanad.

The major source of fresh fish is the Kabini Reservoir where the Irrigation department of Karnataka with the support of the Department of Fisheries every year deposits lakhs of fingerlings. There is a fish seed production hatchery in the reservoir. The local fishermen, majority from tribal communities, were given identity cards. They engage in fishing all night and report at the fishermen's co-operative society with the day’s catch in the morning. Later they would sell the fish to agents waiting with vehicles which would reach the markets of Pulppalli, Bathery, Perikkalloor, Panamaram, Mananthavadi and Bairakkuppa towns, by 8 am.

Fish market
Photo: Special arrangment

According to Jose Nelledam, a member of Mullankolly village panchayath the price of fish varies from Rs 100 to Rs 200 per kilogram. The local people living along the banks of all rivers at the upper reaches of River Kabani including Panmarampuzha and Mananthavadipuzha, also engage in fishing,'' he said, adding that one can see anglers dot along the river bank during monsoon as fish from the reservoir swim upstream during monsoon for spawning.

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