Mumbai Capital

Govt to help fishermen buy trawlers, explore deep seas

For several years, fishermen have been complaining about dearth of fish inside the territorial waters—Photo: AP  

This could be good news for 10 lakh fishermen residing across India’s 7,500-km coastline.

The central government is working on a scheme to allow them to venture beyond India’s territorial waters (12 nautical miles or 22.2 km from the shore) for fishing, and help them buy trawlers with financial assistance.

If the plan materialises, fishermen can go fishing right into the Exclusive Economic Zone, which is 200 nautical miles or 370.4 km from the outer limit of the territorial waters.

For several years, fishermen have been complaining about the dearth of fish in the shallow waters and even inside territorial waters, forcing them to lead a life of penury. And if they ever ventured out of the territory, their boats have been impounded, and they have been arrested by the navies of neighbouring countries.

Union Minister for Highways, Shipping and Ports Nitin Gadkari, said: “Since there is hardly any fish left inside 12 nautical miles zone, we want our fishermen to go beyond this point. For that they need permission from ports. We are willing to provide that.”

At a maritime event in Mumbai, he said, “Since their boats cannot go into the deep sea (beyond the territorial waters), we want to ensure that they buy trawlers.”

Being aware of the fact that a poor fisherman cannot afford to buy a trawler, which costs about Rs 1 crore, the government is advising the community to form fishermen’s societies in different clusters, pool in Rs 5 lakh through equal contributions and apply for a loan. Some fishermen can come together, and also float a partnership firm to buy a trawler through a bank loan.

“The Centre will provide a subsidy of Rs 12-15 lakh, and a trawler can be purchased through funding from Mudra (Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana, which is available for small enterprises and entrepreneurs),” Mr Gadkari said.

Currently, only companies with financial muscle are able to fish in the deep seas using trawlers. “The government will encourage the community to avail of this facility. Fishing in the high seas with trawlers can increase the catch by 10 times, and this will help the fishermen to increase their income sharply,” he added.

The minister said that with the output projected to go up, several cold stores and sea food processing units can come up in the coastal regions, which will help the fishermen.

The initiative is in line with the government’s agenda to boost farmers’ income by addressing various issues in the agriculture sector and augmenting funding.

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Printable version | Mar 1, 2021 12:03:35 PM |

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