Fishermen throng Ramanathapuram Collectorate

A large number of fishermen thronged the Collectorate here on Wednesday with family members urging the district administration and Fisheries Department to restrain mechanised boats from inshore fishing and protect their livelihood.

Stating that the livelihood of more than one lakh families was at stake, hundreds of fishermen, under the banner of Federation of Tamil Nadu Fishing Trade Union - CITU, turned up at the collectorate to express their grievance and press a charter of demands.

Explaining the demands, R.Annathurai, CPI(M) MLA, who led the march, said that despite the ban on inshore fishing (within three nautical miles from the shore) and use of pursine and pair trawling nets in this region, mechanised boats continued to violate the ban order affecting the livelihood of traditional fishermen.

“The livelihood of hundreds of traditional fishermen could be protected only if the district administration took stern action against the mechanised boat fishermen. “We are not asking anything new but only want the district administration and the Fisheries Department to implement the ban order,” he said.

Federation state secretary P.Karuannidhi and President G. Selestin blamed the district administration and the Fisheries Department for failing to implement the ban order. Many of the mechanised boats were using more than 200 horse power engines, violating the restrictions but the department turned a blind eye, they alleged.

Later, a delegation, led by the MLA met the Collector K. Nanthakumar and discussed the demands in detail. After an hour-long meeting, Mr. Annathurai, addressing the fishermen, said the Collector sympathised with their demands and assured to look into their grievances.

“The Collector assured to take stern action against those who used the banned nets and high power engines,” he said adding the Collector promised to set things right in six months in a phased manner, he told the fishermen.

Reacting to charges that the Fisheries Department failed to enforce the ban and prevent inshore fishing, sources in the department said officials could not go for regular patrolling for want of patrolling vessels and marine staff.

Regular patrolling was possible about two decades ago, when the department had high power boats, floating staff and marine crew, but “today we are totally depending on Navy and the Coast Guard for patrolling," the sources said. The department faced acute manpower shortage, the sources pointed out.

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