Harnai Port is a well-known port in Dapoli Taluka. This port has many land forts like Kanadurga fort, the fort of Gova, Fatehgadh and a water fort called Suvarnadurga. History states that these forts were home to the armada of the great king Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and his confidant Sarkhel Kanhoji. The fishermen tribe (Kolis) being the main residents here, fishing is the principle occupation at the ports.
In today’s date, one gets to see the port busy with many big ships and trawlers. The sea shore is always buzzing with hundreds of trawlers, small ships, row boats, ice trucks, cans filled with diesel, trucks to transport fish, weigh scales, wicker baskets, bullock carts and thousands of men. The shore is so crowded that there is hardly any space left. Though the shore is crowded from 3pm to 6pm, it is absolutely empty in the morning. All the fishing trawlers from Harnai, Dabhol, Veldur, Ratnagiri and even Bankot arrive at the port in the noon and dock there one by one. The boats gone fishing early morning too return by the noon. Sometimes, even the big fishing boats who stay at sea for 3-4 days come back to the port with their catch. The catch of the day is then spread out on the shore for auction. This activity that happens on a huge scale is a true sight to behold, where the goods (fish) belong to the highest bidder and vice versa. Buyers shout their prices holding cash in their hands, while the seller stands amidst the crowd monitoring the buyer’s bids at the auction. The buyer who wins the auction, must pick up all the goods he has purchased by paying in cash only and move as soon as he can.
This market is not much of a streamlined place apart from fixed spots for all types of fishes. As prawns has a high market value, special care is taken to preserve it. Tiger prawns and White prawns are the more costlier ones and the costliest of the prawn’s family is the lobster. Hence, Lobsters are of great value to the sellers too.
From small dealers, fisher women and foodies to big names who supply fish to the smaller markets and restaurants in Mumbai, all flock this market in numbers. Fish supplies to other places like Ratnagiri, Pune, Kolhapur, etc., too goes from here. The number of suppliers from Mumbai and north Indians is increasing day by day, but the number of local buyers still beats them. Private trawler owners move the catch straight to their collection centers instead of auctioning it. There are many collection centers of some fish processing companies at the shore too. These centers export fish products to other countries too. Almost 75% to 80% of the catch is auctioned here while the remaining 20% to 25% goes to the collection centers. Few big buyers sometimes give advance to the trawlers to reserve priority for the prawns catch. The shore has many ice and diesel provision centers too, as ice is essentially required to preserve the fish and getting diesel at a proper rate is quite difficult. The businessmen are facing an issue of rising diesel prices and a dip in the fishing business.
At late evening, you can see a heap of discarded fish on the shore. These discarded fish are dried and used as powdered manure and the rest is eaten by stray dogs and birds. The Harnai port has developed as a big center for fishing business. In fact, Harnai has the biggest fish business in all of Ratnagiri and Raigad districts. The tourists who come to watch this amazing deal that happens at the shore Harnai take part in it actively too.