Kerala

New concerns awaiting State’s fisheries sector

As the annual ban on trawling ends on July 31, it will bring a fresh set of problems for the fisheries sector in the State, now in the grip of COVID-19.

There are around 3,600 trawling boats that operate off the coast of Kerala. Most of the workers, numbering around 50,000, in these boats are from Tamil Nadu. Deploying them will be a problem, says P.V. Jayan, representing traditional fishermen in Kerala.

He says fishers in Kochi and other places had brought up the problem before the Fisheries Department a fortnight ago, which then issued a standard operating procedure to ensure that fishing activities did not abet the spread of the disease.

Joseph Xavier Kalapurackal, representing fishing boat operators, says around 20,000 fishers from Tamil Nadu were already in 14-day quarantine in Kerala. Only those who test negative for COVID-19 would be deployed in the fishing boats.

Sources in the Fisheries Department say the issue of manning trawling boats after the ban has been discussed and a standard operating procedure issued. Care will be taken to ensure that COVID-19 protocols are followed.

Mr. Kalapurackal says the sector generates around a lakh jobs and business of ₹10 crore every day during the trawling season. There are 3,600 boats operating off the coast of Kerala. Of these, around 2,000 are big boats employing around 14 people per boat. There are also 1,600 boats that employ around 10 people each.

He says anchovy and shrimp are being caught in abundance now in some areas where fishing is allowed. There is strong anticipation of the formation of mud banks (Chaakara) off the coast of Alappuzha. But fishing restrictions and curbs in sales have kept fishers indoors in most of the areas in the southern districts.

Protocol issued

Meanwhile, the department has issued a protocol for fishers engaged in fishing operations in areas that are not under lockdown to contain COVID-19. Fishing harbour operators should keep a register of the number of people on each venture and their addresses and phone numbers.

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Printable version | Sep 20, 2020 10:46:01 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/new-concerns-awaiting-states-fisheries-sector/article32193385.ece

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