To cut fuel costs incurred by traditional fishermen by one-third, the State government, through Matsyafed, has started the process of distributing diesel engines for fishing boats.

In the district, Matsyafed’s study titled ‘Economics of Prevalent Fishing Units in Kozhikode’ had unveiled alarming statistics on fishermen’s fuel expenses. Fuel ate up 66.45 per cent of the value of a fisherman’s catch annually, the study had revealed.

An ordinary fisherman was spending up to Rs.3.13 lakh on kerosene and maintenance annually. An ordinary fisherman requires up to 7 kilolitres of kerosene a year, almost all of which is bought from the black market.

In the black market, a litre of kerosene costs Rs.75. Last year, it was Rs.40. Each fishing trip requires 50 litres of kerosene and two litres each of oil and petrol to mix it with.

A fisherman gets 125 litres of kerosene a month through PDS at a subsidised rate of Rs.12 a litre. But this hardly lasts three days, forcing them to turn to the black market for fuel. A Government Order by the Fisheries Department on November 20, 2012, had acknowledged “huge irregularities in the present system of distribution of kerosene to fishermen through PDS” in the State.

The diesel-powered inboard engines, Matsyafed found, would cut fuel costs by one-third and solve the scarcity of kerosene. A fishing run would cost just 10 litres of diesel.

“The pilot project of the Matsyafed has been successfully completed.”.

The diesel engines cost around Rs.1.38 lakh. “The government will give subsidy up to Rs.1 lakh for one diesel engine unit. Interested persons can apply at the Matsyafed cluster offices before December 15,” T.V. Ramesan, district manager, Matsyafed, Kozhikode, said.