Uncertainty looms large over their future due to loss of income as thousands of fish workers and vendors will be rendered jobless during annual fishing ban commencing in the early hours of Tuesday.

The conservation period called annual fishing ban/holiday is observed for over a decade in the entire east coast to allow breeding and multiplication of fish population following complaints of dwindling catch.

An estimated 600 mechanised boats, 100 mini and big trawlers and 200 motorised beach craft will be tied to the fishing jetty here as the ban comes into effect from Tuesday. It will be in force till May 31 in the entire east coast, which includes Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Odisha, West Bengal and Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

“Already some boats have come to the anchorage. We expect other boats to return to the shore by midnight,” Dolphin Boat Operators’ Welfare Association president Ch. Satyanaryana Murthy told The Hindu.

The ban will be observed in the west coast from June 15 and 31. The fishing associations in AP have been demanding imposition of uniform ban in both the coasts.

On the other hand, leader of fish workers’ union J.D. Naidu asked the government to provide cash compensation as well as increase in quantum of ration in lieu of mandays lost by them during the annual ban period. “The boat owners make profit while the plight of the fish workers is deplorable for want of social security measures,” he said.

Mr. Naidu, who is general secretary of Visakhapatnam Fishing Harbour Workers’ Union, said an estimated 8,600 workers would be hit hard due to the ban. He said they should be given a cash compensation of Rs.200 per day and sought increase in rice from 31 to 50 kg per fish worker.

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