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Friday, April 27, 2012

Ghol fish rains gold for Gujarat fisherman

Protonibea diacanthus is a species of fish of the family of esciènids and the order of Perciformes – have you heard of Otter boards ?

India dots a long coastline and fishing is the livelihood of many.  There are many variants of fishing boats right from the contraptions of catamarans to big factory ships.  Along the coastline are the Fishing harbour from which many Trawlers, again of varying sizes operate.  For a commoner, a fishing trawler (also called a dragger) is a commercial fishing vessel designed for fishing in a method that involves pulling fishing nets that are spread along the bottom of the sea.   Depending upon the size, area, local conditions and the availability of fishing, fisherfolk go for day, 3, 5 or more days of venturing into the sea.  In one variant of trawlers, there would be rectangular boards known as otter boards, which keep the mouth of the trawl net open.  The boards are made of timber and would weigh heavily.  The net is further kept open by floats and other equipments.  

There are trawl owners and then people employed on board for wages.  Many a times, the lives of those on sea are in a pitiable condition due to varying reasons including vagaries of sea, low catch, no profitable marketing and more.  Occasionally there could be bounty too…  once heard in Kakinada that trawlers had huge catch of prawns and many netted lakhs of rupees – one of the versions was that floods had breached the bunds of Naraspur prawn farms and the fresh water prawns upon entering sea were gaining weight and were caught in huge numbers – the veracity not known !

Now there is another story of riches this time in the Gujarat coast.  Newspaper reports have it that a fisherman from Jamnagar in his late forties has become overnight crorepati – not from all his experience for 2 or more decades but from one catch. He struck virtual gold mine, when he caught some 350-odd ghol fish from Jhakhau creek in mid-sea. The catch is worth close to Rs 1 crore.  It is stated that the  value of ghol fish, scientifically known asprotonibea diacanthus, comes from its fins which are used in the pharmaceutical industry to manufacture dissolvable stitches. It is also used in wine purification and is exported to countries like Singapore. It is three to 4.5 feet in length and can weigh up to 20 kg.

It is the rag to riches story of a fisherman with just one medium-sized boat, whose family has struggled to make ends meet so far. But thanks to ghol fish, he is starting to think big. "Constructing a pucca house is our top priority given that we are a joint family," he  was quoted as saying. says. "I will also buy another boat and name it after the ghol fish.   There are further reports that Ghol fish are not rare but found only in the fag end of the season. Lucky fishermen net eight to 10 fish in the entire season. A catch of 350 ghols is the largest  that has been heard of in that region.  
Ghol (Protonibea diacanthus), called Croaker in English – as the saying that ‘it would rain gold through the housetop’ – it has rained gold fish for this fisherman of Gujarat

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.


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