Mumbai’s fishing community hit hard by lockdown

The coronavirus-enforced lockdown has severely affected Mumbai’s fisher folk as many of them have been rendered jobless and are finding it hard to sustain their livelihood since fish markets are lying closed.

Some of the busiest fish markets, including at the Sassoon Dock in Colaba, Crawford Market in south Mumbai, Bhaucha Dhakka, or ferry wharf near the Dockyard, the Kasara fish market in neighbouring Thane and others, which used to be bustling with activity and business every day are shut.

Thousands of fishing boats are lying useless and the community members are staring at a financial crisis.

The fish market at the Sassoon Dock alone used to clock a daily turnover of about Rs two crore, but is devoid of business activity these days.

Over one lakh fishing community members, who were largely dependent for their livelihood on fish sale at the Sassoon Dock and other markets, are finding it difficult to survive.

Maharashtra Akhil Bhartiya Koli Mahasangh women’s wing member Naina Patil said over 20,000 women from the community sell fish in the city to run their families.

“I also sell fish at the Kalina market. But in the wake of the lockdown, all markets are closed and our businesses have stopped. We are now spending our savings to survive. If the markets open in future, from where will we get the money to procure fish for sale.”

A few NGOs have come forward to help the fisher folk by providing them essential items, she said.

“But, this is not enough. We demand that the state and the central government do something for us,” Patil said.

Akhil Maharashtra Macchimar Kruti Samiti president Damodar Tandel said all the major fish markets and 20 to 25 fishing jetty points in the city are shut.

He claimed the fisheries commissioner has laid some conditions for fishing to resume, which are not possible for them to follow.

“Earlier, we used to earn about Rs 1,000 per day, but now we are doing some odd jobs to survive as the fishing activity has almost stopped,” a fisherwoman said.

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