This decision may not go down well with the fishermen, who not only question the necessity for such a system, but also called the strict deadline as "impractical".

The sight of hundreds of colourful fishing boats lining the docks in the district may be a thing of the past with the Government asking fishermen to colour-code their boats.

This decision may not go down well with the fishermen, who not only question the necessity for such a system, but also called the strict deadline as “impractical”.

The Government Order, which was received by the Fisheries Department earlier this week, follows the Union Government’s decision to colour-code boats in each State to make stray boats identifiable. For Karnataka, the fishing trawlers and boats would have to paint their cabin blue, while the lower and upper portions would be painted black and white, said Assistant Director of the Fisheries Department Vijay Kumar.

Duplicitous deadlines

With the order not having been sent to fishermen unions and associations in the district, there is ambiguity and apprehension regarding the specifics of the order. The uncertainty over deadline of implementation seems to have caused the most concern.

“Those in the diesel depot told us if we don’t get it painted by August, our subsidies would be withdrawn. This is just bullying tactics. No one can paint their boats during the rainy season as the paint won’t dry,” said Chandra Suvarna of the Mangalore Trawl Boat Meenugarara Sangha.

However, Mr. Kumar clarified that the order does not set an implementation date. “Around 1,500 boats ply in the district, and we will undertake it gradually. We need at least one year to colour-code all trawlers,” he said.

Reluctance

Setting aside issues of the deadline, what comes through from the fishermen is the reluctance in accepting the concept, which would standardise the appearance of the boat.

Pegging the price of painting a trawler as between Rs. 1 lakh and Rs. 3 lakh yearly, Mr. Suvarna said: “Every year we spend money to paint our boats to make them look good – by using a variety of colours which we consider lucky or we use the colours of the local deity. Why should we spend so much to make it look like what the Government wants it to look like? Let them subsidise us then,” he said.

Similarly, though welcoming the move in the interest of “national security”, Vasudev Boloor of the National Fishermen's Federation, said the cost of painting the boats needs to be worked out.

However, Mr. Kumar said there was no plan to subsidise the painting of the boats.

Sharath P., a vessel owner, expressed concern over clashes between boats from different States when fishermen drift towards the other State’s territorial waters.

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