The government has decided to extend the time given for renewal of licences of fishing boats to March 2012, following a meeting between Minister for Fisheries and Ports K. Babu and representatives of boat owners.

A decision was also taken to strengthen the marine enforcement wing to check fishing using explosives by fibre boats from other States. The Home Department would be asked for support of the police and Coast Guard in this regard.

Considering the demand of the boat owners for full or partial exemption from paying accumulated arrears of their contribution to the Fishermen’s Welfare Fund, the conference decided to form a sub-committee to submit recommendations on the subject. The sub-committee, to be chaired by the Additional Chief Secretary (Fisheries), will have the director fisheries, Commissioner of Kerala Fishermen’s Welfare Fund Board and a representative of the boat owners as members.

The committee is to consider issues, including a special package, if necessary, and submit its report by January 31, 2012. The boat owners complained that hardly anyone of them was getting the benefit of the diesel subsidy because the subsidy was limited to BPL cardholders. They also urged that the road tax on diesel should be lifted. So, the Additional Chief Secretary was asked to take up the issue with the Central government.

Referring to their demand that the dredging of fishing harbours should be improved, the Minister informed them that tenders had been invited for buying a new dredger at a cost of Rs. 10 crore.