Troubled waters cost them dearly

Santosh Patnaik
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Frequent cyclonic systems in the Bay compound the woes of boat owners

Turbulent period:Fishermen tightening a rope to ensure the safety of a boat at Peda Jalaripeta in Visakhapatnam on Wednesday. —Photo: K.R. Deepak
Turbulent period:Fishermen tightening a rope to ensure the safety of a boat at Peda Jalaripeta in Visakhapatnam on Wednesday. —Photo: K.R. Deepak

Frequent systems formed in the Bay of Bengal at a time when they are getting good catch have compounded the woes of boat operators.

“The sea turns rough with high tide and current whenever a system occurs. This forces us to undertake our voyage against currents spending more on fuel,” said Dolphin Boat Operators’ Welfare Association president Ch. Satyanarayana Murthy.

With very severe cyclonic storm Lehar, which is fast approaching the Andhra coast, expected to cause heavy damage, the boat operators are being asked to return to the safe shelter of the fishing harbour.

Out of the 600 being operated from Visakhapatnam, half of the mechanised boats were in voyage when Lehar warning was issued. Most of them had gone to Paradip and Gopalpur.

It takes 30 hours from Paradip and 20 hours to Gopalpur to return.

“We have informed all of them on mobile phones, and most of them have either returned or are expected to dock here by late night or Thursday morning,” Mr. Murthy said.

Most of the trawlers, except tuna long-liners, are at the jetty. Almost all the beach landing crafts are back to the harbour after warnings issued by Met, fisheries, and revenue offices. After the end of 47-day annual conservation period, the fishermen had pinned high hopes of getting good yield when they resumed fishing on June 1.

The Samaikyandhra agitation, the occurrence of systems one after another starting with Phailin, the severe depression that brought heavy rains for nearly a week, Helen, and the latest Lehar have cast a heavy burden on the fishing community. Around 8,000 drivers, khalasis, and others depend directly and indirectly on fishing by mechanised boats from fishing harbour.

As a precautionary measure, the boat operators have decided to deploy fishermen and crew on 24x7 duty to ensure safety of vessels when the turbulence level of sea reaches high due to surge of waves by two to three metres.

There are 12 jetties — zero and jetty No. 11 and 10 jetties in the finger jetty where the boats will be anchored by tying them with strong ropes.

“We had a bitter experience during Phailin as some of the boats suffered damages due to their anchorage side by side. This time, we want to maintain gap between the boats to avoid collision,” Pentayya, a boat owner, said.

He said that if a mechanised boat returns without catch, they would incur an expenditure of Rs.50,000 towards fuel, ice and other expenses.

  • After 47-day fishing ban, fishermen hoped of good yield

  • Samaikya stir, Phailin, Helen and Lehar dashed their hopes

  • Occurrence of cyclonic systems frequently in the Bay of Bengal is compounding the woes of boat operators



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