The fisheries department will soon introduce artificial reefs for fish culture in Kancheepuram and Tiruvallur districts.

Two sites, suitable for reef culture, have already been chosen in Kancheepuram.

“This is being done to help fishermen who don’t fish deep. Specially-designed concrete blocks are placed in chosen spots that have higher amounts of nutrients and are shallow. The location is chosen in such a way that it is not affected by trawling,” said an official in the department.

The State government has sanctioned Rs. 2.6 crore for introducing artificial reefs at 17 locations across the State and already, nine sites have been chosen. “Each block costs Rs. 15 lakh. The Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute is the consultant for the project and they are identifying the locations,” the official said.

The concrete blocks are placed within a 10-km distance from the shore, in places where the effect of estuaries can be felt. “The nutrient content will be higher at estuaries making it ideal for the young ones to feed. So these blocks will be placed near them. Some fish require proper places to breed and these reefs will help. If not their numbers would reduce,” explained an expert.

Meanwhile, the South Indian Fishermen’s Welfare Association has urged the State government to implement the artificial reefs immediately.

“Fishermen in Tiruvallurhave been affected by two thermal power stations and two ports. Sea erosion is also increasing by the day. Fishing activity has almost come to a standstill in areas including Ennore, Kattupalli and Pulicat due to industrial activity,” said K. Bharathi, president of the association.

He also said many fisherfolk who were provided jobs by the ports have not been made permanent employees and are engaged as contract workers.

“One person died recently and because he was a contract worker, his family cannot get any compensation or job. We urge the Chief Minister to intervene and ensure that these workers get permanent jobs,” said Mr. Bharathi.

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