When fisherman Chandrakant Tare took his boat out to sea on August 28 – the first time since the monsoon fishing ban that began in June – he had no idea he would return home a millionaire.
With a crew of 10 other fishermen, Tare pulled out to sea from Palghar, a seaside town roughly 40 miles from India’s financial capital, Mumbai. In the open water, Tare cast his net and drew a catch of 157 fish.
But it wasn’t just any fish. The haul happened to be ghol fish, a rare and valuable black spotted croaker fish known as “sea gold.”
When word got out that Tare had caught the most valuable edible and commercial fish in the region, traders from the Indian states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar gathered to hold an auction. Tare was able to sell his day’s catch for Rs 13.3 million ($182,000).
Scientifically named Protonibea diacanthus, ghol fish are in massive demand in Southeast Asia and Hong Kong for their medicinal value. The skin is a source of collagen, a protein often used in wellness and beauty products. Pharmaceutical companies use parts of the fish to make dissolvable stitches. It is also used to make wine.
In June, two fishermen in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh sold two large ghol fish caught in the Bay of Bengal for Rs 500,000 ($6,842). Similarly, a fisherman in the Indian state of Orissa caught one worth Rs 150,000 ($2,052) in 2019, despite the region not being known as a ghol fish habitat.
Before Tare’s big haul, the greatest ghol fish catch was by a fisherman in the Indian state of Gujarat, who sold 350 fish for Rs 10 million ($136,859).