Staff Reporter

Fisheries research vessel launched

Lauds activities of the fisheries technology institute

KOCHI: There is an immediate need to diversify fishing methods as marine-capture fisheries is facing stagnation the world over, Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar has said.

Speaking here on Friday evening after launching Matysyakumari-II, a fisheries research vessel built by the Kerala Shipping and Inland Navigation Corporation for the Central Institute of Fisheries Technology, he expressed happiness at the CIFT coming up with new designs and gears for fishing vessels operating in the Indian coast, the islands and the hilly regions of the north-east.

He said that fishing in India was at its infancy in 1957, when the institute was established. “Since then, the institute brought about mechanisation of crafts and selective fishing. Till 1957, marine fishing was confined to just the coastal waters, the vessels were traditional dug-out canoes and the nets were made of cotton twine. Now, India is the third largest fishing country. The CIFT has played its part in fish-processing and in developing eco-friendly and fuel-efficient fishing vessels,” Mr. Pawar said, adding that the rising cost of fuel was a cause for concern for the fisher folk.

Reacting to a demand made by Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan that the Cochin Port Trust and the Fisheries Department permit the KSINC to have an extended lease of the Thopumpady slipway at a reasonable rent, Mr. Pawar said that the issue would be taken up with the agencies concerned.

His wife, Prathibha Pawar, named the vessel and launched it, at a function held on the KSINC slipway.

Mr. Achuthanandan said in his presidential address that shipbuilding was a strength of the erstwhile Travancore-Cochin State, till the colonial powers took it away for their selfish gains.

“Sixty years after Independence, we are in the process of regaining the position. There is need for more small shipyards in the country,” he said.

Matsyakumari II, built at a cost of Rs.2.32 crore, will be used for onboard investigation of fishing gears, fish behaviour, conservation of resources, processing and preservation of fish and the marine environment.

The guest of honour Mangala Rai, Secretary, Department of Agriculture Research and Education and the Director-General of the Indian Council for Agricultural Research, said that a few more such vessels were required for marine research.

“The sea holds a wealth of resources for mankind,” he said.

KSINC Chairman B.R. Menon said that Matsyakumari II was the most-sophisticated sea-going vessel built by the corporation. He lauded the role played by experts who were able to surmount many challenges in constructing the vessel. The others who were present included Fisheries Minister S. Sarma; CIFT Director K. Devadasan; Cochin Port Trust Chairman N Ramachandran; Director of Inland Waterways Authority of India S. Dandapat and KSINC Managing Director K.V.R. Varier.