Future uncertain for trawler boat operators

Fishing nets at the Kalamukku fishing harbour, one of the busiest fish landing centres in the State. The 52-day trawling ban is set to end on July 31.   | Photo Credit: H. VIBHU

Trawler boat owners engaged in deep-sea fishing are staring at a bleak future with the price of diesel going up relentlessly and loss of significant number of fishing days owing to COVID-19 restrictions.

V.T. Gireesh, a trawler boat owner from Munambam, said around 800 boats operated out of Vypeen, Kochi and Munambam harbours, employing 10 persons each on an average, while thousands were engaged in fish sale.

According to him, the loss of fishing days has resulted in serious crisis, and most boat owners do not have the wherewithal to even repair boats and fishing gear even as the annual 52-day trawling ban is set to end on the midnight of July 31.

In a recent memorandum to the State government, All Kerala Fishing Boat Operators Association had said that the annual ban on trawling left the fishing community in dire straits even as it came close on the heels of the lockdown and consequent loss of fishing days owing to closure of harbours. The association said with over 3.5 lakh people depending on the fishing sector for livelihood, long-term restrictions would exacerbate their crisis.

Meanwhile, Mr. Gireesh called upon the government to take a sympathetic view of fishers’ concern and not to insist on heavy licence fees. While other States do not impose heavy fees, boat owners from Kerala are forced to pay huge registration fees. Moreover, the Fisheries Department has instructed boat owners to renew their licences by July 31.

The steep rise in the price of diesel too has been a big drag on fishing operations. The cost of each fishing expedition has gone up by around 30%, and poor landings have added to boat owners’ woes.

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Printable version | Sep 26, 2021 1:04:32 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/future-uncertain-for-trawler-boat-operators/article35531110.ece

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