Fishing boat owners threaten stir against licence fee hike

On warpath: Boat owners claim that the enhanced licence fee of ₹50,000 for vessels of 22-metre length will make fishing unviable.

On warpath: Boat owners claim that the enhanced licence fee of ₹50,000 for vessels of 22-metre length will make fishing unviable.  


Licences of many fishing boats remain technically cancelled after failure to pay new tariff

Citing a sharp decline in daily catch and the increase in operational costs, a section of fishing boat owners in Kozhikode district have expressed their inability to remit the recently hiked boat licence fee to the government. As the owners have refused to pay the enhanced fee, the licences of many fishing boats remain technically cancelled, compelling the Fisheries Department to adopt legal action against them and prevent the operation of such boats.

Though some of the boat owners had been given time to remit the amount in two instalments, they were unreceptive to the proposal. The majority of those who rejected the proposal were fishers who owned bigger boats. According to them, the hiked fee of ₹50,000 for boats of 22-metre-length was unfair and no one would be able to pay it every year even in two instalments.

“We do not want to challenge any government order or department. What we seek is a revision of the hiked licence fee for our survival. There is no intervention by the Central or State governments on the issue even after it was taken up with various Union and State Ministers,” said V. Umesh, district president of the All India Fishermen Congress. He complained that the loss of work days due to unfavourable weather and other issues compounded the crisis and losses.

Fishermen from the Koyilandy harbour expressed the fear that the Fisheries Department was planning to impose a fine on the defaulters and step up enforcement in the coastal area, which they said, would lead to intensification of the local protest. They warned that there would be a State-wide agitation under the aegis of fishermen’s associations which were united to fight against such actions.

Leaders of the Kerala Matsya Thozhilali Congress (KMTC) and the Bharatiya Matsya Pravarthaka Sanghom said that the 10-fold hike imposed on even small fishing boat owners across the State was unjustifiable. Owners of small fishing boats who paid just ₹200 as renewal fee annually now had to remit ₹2,100, which would not be feasible in these challenging times, they said.

“For fishing boats fitted with in-board engines, it is impossible to set apart such a huge amount every year. Many of such boats are not even going to the see on a regular basis,” says K. Rajan, State vice-president of the KMTC. Only trawling boat owners would be able to manage the hiked fee to some extent as they could meet the operational costs with the income, he said.

According to N.P. Radhakrishnan, vice-president of the Bharatiya Matsya Pravarthaka Sanghom, many of the boat owners were already in trouble with the frequent inspection by Coast Guard officials during fishing. “We will not be able to tolerate similar action again by the marine enforcement squads,” he said.

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Printable version | Jan 20, 2020 5:00:32 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kozhikode/fishing-boat-owners-threaten-stir-against-licence-fee-hike/article30080851.ece

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