Even as the 45-day fishing ban period is nearing to an end, fishermen are busy overhauling their mechanised boats. The ban that came into effect on April 15 to allow breeding of marine fish along the East Coast will end on May 29.

Boat owners and fishermen have moored 262 mechanised boats at Tuticorin Fishing Harbour, which now witnesses hectic activities like dry docking of boats, maintenance works, overhauling of engines, repainting and mending of nets.

According to S.Xavier Vaz, president, Tuticorin Mechanised Boat Owners Association, major overhauling works, including engine works, on a large boat would involve an expenditure of Rs.5 lakh to Rs.10 lakh. Medium and small boats would need an average expenditure of Rs.3 lakh to Rs.4 lakh, he said. He said barnacles, which attached themselves to the bottom of boats, could be removed only during dry docking. If they were not removed, the weight of the boats would increase, leading to additional diesel consumption. “Only 10 per cent of the total fleet normally requires major works during this annual lean period, and the other boats need five to seven days of menial works,” Mr.Vaz told The Hindu.

Fishing nets also suffered damage as prime fishing grounds had hard and rocky sea bottom, J.Wellington Vaz, a boat owner said. Since nets could get damaged any time, the boats would carry a maximum of seven nets each to successfully complete their stay at sea, he said.

During the lean period, the fishermen were taught safety measures to be taken while fishing and various methods of responsible fishing, N.Neethi Selvan, Professor, Department of Fishing Technology and Fisheries Engineering, Fisheries College of Research and Institute, Tuticorin, said.

With only a few days left for the start of fishing season, most fishermen in the city and neighbouring coastal villages were seen mending nets, hoping for a bumper catch.

More In: Tamil Nadu | National