Every year, the Fisheries Department in Andhra Pradesh enforces a strict two-month ban on fishing from April to June along the length of the state's coast. This ban is to facilitate breeding of fish.
For fishermen that depend on fishing as a livelihood, this ban affects their main source of income. While the government pays the fishermen ex gratia of Rs 4000 for the 62 days, many claim that this hardly suffices.
At such a time, when fishermen are forced to look for work to tide over the two-month period and the following few months when fish is scarce in the sea, locals in the coastal town of Machilipatnam find comfort with a unique catch; jellyfish.
Jellyfish breed around the time of the fishing ban. Their mass reproduction makes them an abundant resource for the locals of Machilipatnam twice in a year, once just before the ban is imposed and then right after the ban.
‚ÄúDuring the two-month fishing ban is when the jellyfish breed but the department officials don't let us fish during the time. So once the ban is lifted, when there is less fish, the fisherman catch jellyfish. For them and for the labourers in the village, this becomes a much-needed source of livelihood during this period,‚ÄĚ says Nageswara Rao, who supervises one of the jellyfish units
Jellyfish are found roughly five nautical miles (9.26 km) from the coast. Fishermen set out every morning and return by afternoon with the catch. Some fishermen even go twice a day.
Once caught, the jellyfish is brought back to the unit, unloaded from the boats and then washed thoroughly cleaned and sorted. The jellyfish is then packed in buckets with some salt and preservatives and taken to Chennai port from where it is exported to Southeast Asian countries.
Not just fishermen, their wives and labourers in the town too profit from the unconventional business.
Watch the video below.