In a major move towards promoting cost-effective and sustainable practices, the Fisheries department in Kerala will soon launch a programme to convert kerosene engines in the State’s fishing fleet. While fishers can choose any alternative that includes petrol, diesel and gas, the government will provide around 50% subsidy for switching to new engines.
“Fishers from the Kerala coast widely use kerosene as fuel and this is not an ideal option for many reasons. While 1 litre kerosene will cover hardly 9 km, you can cruise double the distance with other fuels as they are more efficient. It is also an attempt to bring down marine pollution caused by kerosene,” Fisheries Minister V. Abdurahiman told The Hindu.
Prior to implementing the project, the department had conducted an inspection of crafts using kerosene in all nine coastal districts and issued permits.
While many fishing States have already converted a major portion of their fleet, fishers from Kerala and a couple of districts in Tamil Nadu still stick to kerosene. Currently, over 14,000 fishing boats in Kerala use kerosene, and the department plans to convert them in a phased manner. “Some believe it is the best fuel to navigate the waves, but that is an incorrect notion,” the Minister said.
In Kerala majority of traditional crafts (10,477 numbers) use kerosene engines below 10 HP and as they need 8 litres of fuel per hour, the monthly requirement is around 500 litres. It takes the total fuel cost slightly over Rs 60,000 and replacing the engine with a 4 stroke petrol OBM will bring it down to Rs. 25680. In the first phase 25 % of the total fleet (2620 numbers) will be converted to petrol engine by replacing the carburettor kit. While the Fisheries department will provide the fund for changing the carburetor, 40% to 50% subsidy will be offered through Matsyafed for replacing the engine.
Mr. Abdurahiman said the Fisheries department and Indian Oil Corporation Limited will soon conduct a programme in Alappuzha district to demonstrate the advantages of converting to gas. The surge in kerosene prices, delay in the disbursal of subsidised kerosene and with the recent dip in marine resources had put traditional fishers in a difficult situation.
“The major objective is to make fishing profitable and pollution-free and we hope that fishers will soon realise the substantial benefits of the move. While the engine conversion will bring in a huge difference in operational costs, it will also help in conserving marine ecosystems,” said Mr. Abdurahiman.