P. Samuel Jonathan

“Centre’s decision unfair”

Ban aimed at conservation of fish resources

Mechanised boat owners welcome fishing holiday

GUNTUR: Clouds of uncertainty are hovering over the coastal belts of Nizampatnam, Bapatla and Odarevu over the proposals of the Union Government to extend the fishing holiday to traditional fishermen and to prolong it to 60 days instead of conventional 45 days period.

The fishing holiday, hitherto, had been limited to mechanized boats alone.

Livelihood concerns

Local fishermen associations have already said they would oppose the proposal.

“The proposal is unfair and leaves about 50,000 fishermen jobless for two months.

“While we are aware of the need to conserve fish, the proposal will rob the traditional fishermen of their basic livelihood,” secretary of Sampradaya Matsyakarula Seva Samithi Naidu Venkateswara Rao said on Wednesday.

Uniform ban

The two-month fishing holiday beginning from April 15 will be uniformly observed in the states on the eastern coast – West Bengal, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry.

Conservation

The fishing holiday and the ban on trawling are aimed at conservation of fish resources.

The ban is introduced during monsoon every year, which is the spawning season of many varieties of fish.

“It would be sufficient to ban bottom trawling during the breeding season as that would disturb the seabed, leading to destruction of fishlings and eggs, but to ban traditional fishermen who hardly venture more than eight k.m. off the sea coast is unfair,” he rues.

However, the extension of holiday to 60 days is being welcomed by mechanized boat owners.

Respite

“While the ban allows breeding of fish, it would also be some respite for us.

“The sea is usually rough during the two months and the lean period gives us time to repair our boats,” says Nizampatnam based mechanized boats association president Mopidevi Srinu.

Relief planned

Senior officials of the department of fisheries say that the proposal to extend fishing holiday to 60 days was based on the recommendations of the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute.

“We have taken into consideration the local sentiments and sent proposals for free distribution of rice and kerosene to fishermen during these two months.

“The scheme is being implemented in Pondicherry and we are awaiting a reply from the State Government,” said a senior official.