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Fish sales fall as people continue to be apprehensive

By Maleeha Raghaviah

KOZHIKODE, JAN. 3. Even though fish consignments failed to arrive at the Kozhikode market from the coastal areas of Tamil Nadu such as Nagapattinam and Cuddalore since December 26, following the tsunami attack, they continue to arrive in from other centres such as Mumbai and Goa. But these were being sold at throwaway prices.

Fishermen in Kozhikode were selling fish at cheap prices and there were no takers as people continue to be apprehensive that a particular virus harmful to human beings had infected fish.

The executive member, Fish Merchants Association, Baku, said people were scared to buy fish. Only 25 per cent of the fish arriving at the markets was being sold. As a result, most of the commodity was being bought by dry fish merchants.

Fish arrived at the Kozhikode market from Ratnagiri, Chaliyam, Chombala, Koilandi and Payyoli. The wholesale price of seer fish was Rs.100. Only 25 to 50 trays of mackarel was being sold instead of the usual 500 trays.

The scientist-in-charge, Central Institute of Fisheries Technology (CIFT), George Joseph told The Hindu here today that there was absolutely no harm in consuming seafood. He said this aspect has been made clear by the CIFT a couple of days back following reports that a virus called Zulican had spread through seafood due to the tsunami that swept across the Indian Ocean.

He said there was no scientific reason why fish could not be consumed now. The scare was unfounded, he added. No fish mortality had been reported either. Sources at the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute too allayed fears that consuming fish was dangerous. "Though this is the first experience of a tsunami, the after effects are being monitored closely. If there is a contamination, fish can sense danger and will move away," sources added.

Sources at the Fish Merchants Association alleged that the rumour that fish consumption was unsafe was being spread by the broiler chicken lobby.

Fish trading had come to a standstill for three to four days after the tsunami attack. A few consignments of sardines, mackerels, seer and catfish had arrived from Mumbai and other centres, and this too had been sold at a high price. Fishing operations were yet to pick up in Koilandi and Chombala in the district.

Fish merchants said that earlier, during this season, there were good arrivals of different varieties such as `chuda', seer, pomfret and mackerel from coastal centres in Tamil Nadu.

Chicken prices go up

In the wake of the public being apprehensive of consuming fish, the price of chicken has increased from around Rs.55 to per kg. to Rs.70 per kg., market sources added.

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