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Once a hub, now a junkyard

Santosh Patnaik
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Deep-sea trawler owners at their wits' end

With no fishing, trawlers getting rusted at the fishing jetty in Visakhapatnam. About 60 to 65 trawlers are lying idle due to falling catch and high cost of fishing operation.— Photo: K.R. Deepak
With no fishing, trawlers getting rusted at the fishing jetty in Visakhapatnam. About 60 to 65 trawlers are lying idle due to falling catch and high cost of fishing operation.— Photo: K.R. Deepak

Once known as ‘Mecca of deep-sea trawlers', Visakhapatnam has now turned a junkyard for these vessels.

The steel hull trawlers of over-all length between 20 to 25 metres are rendered out of action for the past few years due to depleting catch and high operational cost.

A visit to the fishing jetty in the Visakhapatnam Port area will present an ugly sight of about 60 to 65 trawlers lying idle and gathering dust. The shocking fact is that some of them have already sunk.

East coast was home to about 150 trawlers in the 1980s and early 1990s. Now most of them are either lying idle or being operated under heavy loss.

Foreign vessels, which operated in the form of Letter of Permit vessels, are also partly responsible for dwindling of catch.

Trawler owners feel that they had already burnt their fingers in the business as the price of shrimp has remained the same since the 1990s. Now the problem is that they want to scrap the vessels. For over a year, they are running from pillar to post but the authorities are not granting them permission.

Visakkhapatnam Port authorities have asked them to get ‘no objection certificate' from AP Pollution Control Board. The board in turn told them point blank that ‘ship breaking' is allowed only in Gujarat.

“As scrapping will cause heavy pollution, we have recommended decommissioning at Alang Shipyard in Gujarat where ship-breaking is allowed,” P. Usman Ali Khan, Senior Environmental Engineer, APPCB, said.

Pollution

Taking them to Gujarat is not possible going by their present condition. If they are allowed to be kept in the fishing jetty, it will not only block the space but also lead to sinking when sea condition is rough causing further pollution. When contacted, Brigadier S.K. Aggarwal, president, Association of Fishing Professionals, told The Hindu that they were ready to take the trawlers to the slipway complex and scrap them without causing any pollution and paying slipway charges. Trawler owners contend that their vessels should not be treated as ships.

They are totally empty and their scrapping will not release any toxic or any chemical, gas, radiation or pollution. “The engine can be removed easily and the steel body by cutting it,” said Capt. T.I. Victor Fernando, managing director of Reeda Marine Pvt. Ltd.


  • The east coast was home to about 150 trawlers in the 1980s and early 1990s

  • Now most of them are either lying idle or being operated under heavy loss



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