Fisheries being an export industry must be modernised to achieve its potential as a foreign exchange earner, said Minister for Urban Development Vinay Kumar Sorake here on Thursday.

After inaugurating the new Rs. 35 lakh branch of the Dakshina Kannada and Udupi Districts Co-operative Fish Marketing Federation Corporation at the Mangalore Old Port, Mr. Sorake said, “A large chunk of the fish that is caught is exported. This brings in vital foreign exchange for the country. Fishing neeeds to be encouraged.”

He said the commercial importance of harbours had slowly diminished as the thrust was on industries. To revive the fishing sector, the Minister said there was a need to modernise ports and harbours in the State.

Mr. Sorake said the development of the Rs. 165-crore Kulai fishing harbour, Rs. 100-crore Hejmadi port, dredging at Koderi port and the imminent inauguration of Maravante harbour for traditional fishermen will be a boost to fisheries in the state.

However, Mangalore South MLA J.R. Lobo suggested that instead of building new ports, focus should be on improving existing infrastructure.

“The number of boats has increased in Mangalore Old Port, but the harbour size is the same. There is no place to load or repair boats. Even when the third phase of the harbour project is completed, it won’t be enough to solve the space problems here,” said Mr. Lobo.

He said dredging should be a continuous process in the port, while constructing a breakwater at Alive Bagilu (mouth of the harbour) would offset the dangerous currents.

At the function held to commemorate the death anniversary of R.D. Mendon, the founder of the corporation, 37 children of fishermen were given students scholarships, while gold coins were given as incentive to nearly 50 fishermen for their catch this year. Eight SHGs of fisherwomen were given Rs. 50 lakh under the Matsya Mahila Swavalamban scheme.

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