Country boat fishermen from more than 10 fishing hamlets in the Erwadi region staged a demonstration on Friday, demanding ban on mechanised boats fishing near the coast.

M. Karunamoorthy, secretary of the Tamil Nadu Fishing Trade Federation, affiliated to the Centre of Indian Trade Union (CITU), which organised the agitation, said that about 2,000 fishermen took part in the agitation condemning the district administration and the Fisheries Department for failing to protect the interests of small and marginal fishermen.

He said that though mechanised boats were banned from fishing within the 5.5 km range from the shore, more than 150 high-power boats from Mandapam, Keezhakarai and Erwadi areas venture into this area for fishing, affecting the livelihood of more than 700 families, which used vallams for fishing near the coast.

He said that the district administration should utilise the services of the Indian Coast Guard and prevent the mechanised boats from fishing in the banned coastal areas, using banned fishing nets.

The fishermen would be forced to “capture’ the mechanised boats and ‘camp’ in the Collectorate complex with their family members if the government did not come forward to protect their interests, he said.