Migrants dominate workforce in marine fisheries sector

The fish processing sector in the State too is dependent on migrant workforce.  

Of all the 14 persons who were on board Carmel Matha, the fishing boat which was involved in a mid-sea collision on Sunday, no fishermen belonged to Kerala. Surprising as it may seem, the fact, however, has come as no surprise to those in the marine fisheries sector.

A cursory glance at the functioning of fishing harbours of Kochi will show you that whatever labour on the boats operating here is done by migrants.

A latest study by the Centre for Migration and Inclusive Development (CMID), Kochi, has found that fisherfolk in the sector comprise skilled and non-skilled fishers from Sundarbans region in West Bengal; Puri, Khorda, Cuttack and Baleswar districts on the Odisha coast; Srikakulam and Vizianagaram districts in coastal Andhra Pradesh; Udupi district in Karnataka, apart from Tamil fishermen from Kanyakumari, Cuddalore, Thoothukkudy and Ramanathapuram districts.

According to Benoy Peter, executive director of CMID, men from Assam and West Bengal having no prior experience in fishing were being employed in fishing boats. “Only a very few young men from the State find fishing as an attractive means of livelihood. As a result of which, native labour force diminishes and the shortage of labour is addressed by engaging workers from other States,” he said.

Among the major harbours visited as part of the study, Vizhinjam was the only harbour where migrant workers were not engaged in significant numbers.

In most trawlers, the system of payment for these fishers is based on the share of catch. Though it takes several months for migrants to master the required skills, its pays dividend as the running cost is substantially low when employing them. They start off their work on board by learning how to sort different kinds of fish.

Usually, the captain gets a double share in addition to allowances and the rest of the crew get single shares. Since these boats go for multiday fishing trips, which last for 10 to 15 days, most migrant fishers live in boats. Some live in rented rooms near harbours provided by boat owners, the study said.

The fish processing sector in the State too is heavily dependent on migrant workforce. Aroor in Alappuzha district, and Neendakara and Sakthikulangara in Kollam district are the major fish processing hubs where both migrant men and women from Assam, Karnataka, Odisha, Jharkhand and Nagaland work in fish processing units.

Our code of editorial values

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Jan 27, 2022 9:08:18 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/migrants-dominate-workforce-in-marine-fisheries-sector/article18964456.ece

Next Story