Fishermen are not keen on this suggestion made by fisheries department

Tamil Nadu Principal Highways Secretary Niranjan Mardi, who is the monitoring officer for the district, has suggested that the fisheries department could encourage mechanised boat fishermen of this region to take up tuna long liner deep sea fishing to avoid conflict with the Sri Lankan navy in the long run.

Mr Mardi, who held a review meeting with District Collector K. Nanthakumar and heads of various departments at the Collectorate on Friday, made the suggestion in the backdrop of the arrest of 53 fishermen and seizure of nine of their boats by the Sri Lankan navy.

Sources in the fisheries department, however, said both mechanised and country boat fishermen have not responded favourably to the proposal of tuna long liner fishing, though the State government has offered a subsidy of Rs 5 lakh for the purpose of converting their vessels for deep sea fishing.

No fisherman has come forward to avail the subsidy and craft conversion following a Government Order in 2011, which was amended last month, sources said.

After passing the GO in 2011, the government gave administrative sanction for Rs 25 crore towards subsidy for five years and provided budgetary allocation in the budget for 2011-12.

The scheme received a lukewarm response as the fishermen needed Rs 20 lakh to convert the mechanised boats and Rs 10 lakh to convert country boat and avail the back ended subsidy, the sources said.

Moreover, fishermen of the district, who used to venture out for one-day fishing, were not mentally prepared for multi-day fishing.

“It is very difficult to change their mind set,” the sources said.

For tuna long liner fishing, the mechanised boats should be 15 to 20 metre long with a 150 HP engine.

The traditional boats should be converted to 10 to 15 metre length with 10 to 15 HP engine. Both the fishermen could use 500 to 1000 kg gill net and 200 hook lines while fishing, according to the GO.

The diesel subsidy would remain at 1,500 litres per month for mechanised boats and 300 litres for country boats.

There are 1,624 mechanised and 3,066 country boats in the district.

Deep sea fishing, however, is popular in Tuticorin district.

The subsidy was made available to 100 fishermen and 84 of them availed it and converted their vessels for deep sea fishing, sources said.