College students, volunteers from Exnora International and fishermen joined hands on Thursday to clean up Kasimedu Fishing Harbour. During the cleaning, four lorry-loads of garbage, including pieces of rope, nets, stale fish, pieces of fibre reinforced plastic from boats, plastic covers, old tyres and cups were removed.

Fishermen said that the harbour, which is managed by a committee under the Chennai Port Trust, does not have a proper mechanism to remove garbage.

“There are no garbage bins, which is why the wharf, auction halls, market and other places are strewn with garbage. Where can we throw the waste?” asked Muthuvel, a fisherman.

Exnora International founder M. B. Nirmal, who participated in the programme, suggested that a bio-methanation plant could be installed so that fish waste can be used to produce methane gas. “Self help groups should be roped in to clean the fishing harbour. Fishermen also need to be sensitized to not throw garbage inside the harbour,” he said.

Nanjil Ravi of the Akila Indhiya Meenavar Sangam said this was the first step towards making the harbour conform to international standards. “We are unable to export fish from the harbour as it does not conform to standards. We are sending it to Kerala from our where fish is exported. We lose around Rs. 25 per kilo as our fish loses its quality by the time it is sent to Kerala,” he explained.

M.D. Dayalan of the Indian Fishermen Association said that fisherfolk were suggesting that cleaning inside the fishing harbour be handed over to Exnora, which has experience in that field.

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