Boats from other States have to pay Rs.15,000 every three months to fish off Kerala coast

The government decision to impose user fee on fishing vessels from other States operating in waters off the Kerala coast has led to resistance from fishermen in Tamil Nadu.

A meeting organised by the Association of Deep Sea Going Artisanal Fishermen (ADSGAF) and the Kanyakumari District Fishermen Sangams Federation (KDFSF) last week expressed concern over the government order, saying that it would result in disunity among fish workers hailing from different parts of the Indian coast.

The order issued by the Principal Secretary, Fisheries and Ports, on August 9 imposes a user fee of Rs.15,000 for every three months on boats from other States engaged in fishing off the Kerala coast. It also proposes a relaxation in the subscription to be paid to the Fishworkers’ Welfare Fund Board by owners of boats and inboard fishing vessels in Kerala.

Participants in the meeting said fishermen from Kanyakumari regularly ventured out to distant offshore areas in search of better catch.

“If all States resort to the user fee system, it will be detrimental to the fishing communities. The Kerala government should have consulted the neighbouring States before embarking on such a move,” a press note quoting Antone Gomez, Chairman, Akhila India Meenavar Sangam said.

The press note expressed resentment over the stand adopted by the Kerala Swathantra Matsya Thozhilali Federation (KSMTF) and the National Fishworkers Forum (NFF) on the issue.

“At a meeting held on June 28, a representative of the federation endorsed the user fee. He could have opposed the proposal as the system is not transparent and has the potential to affect friendly relationship among fishermen from various States.”