Tamil Nadu

TN fishermen seek government help to phase out trawlers

In the wake of bilateral talks between fishermen of Sri Lanka and India in Colombo hitting a deadlock over the use of trawlers by Indian fishermen, fishermen here seek government intervention for expediting the phasing-out of trawlers.

While expressing disappointment over the “rigid” stance of the Sri Lankan counterparts who call for an immediate end to the use of trawlers, fisherfolk here believe it is in the hands of the government to provide support for an early phasing-out of the practice of trawling.

“Fishermen were initiated into trawling as part of a larger mechanisation process when Kamaraj was Chief Minister of the State. That was also the time when we shifted from rudimentary cotton nets to nylon, and bottom trawling,” says Thiruaraiselvan, panchayatar of Akkarapettai.

Conceding that over four decades of trawling have rendered extinct several species, Mr.Thiruvaraiselvan says, however, trawling cannot be given up overnight.

There is an entire infrastructure that was set up to support trawling. “Trawling helped net certain species that boosted exports and fetched foreign exchange to the country. The government encouraged us to use trawling extensively. In the process, no doubt, we’ve lost some very critical species,” he says.

While mechanisation of fishing entailed line hooks (hook and line) and gill nets in countries such as Japan, here “we were introduced to trawling and an entire infrastructure was put up to support trawling’’, he says

According to Subburaj, Joint Director of Fisheries, Nagapattinam, there has been a tangible shift to gill nets from trawl nets. “Over 60 per cent to 75 per cent of fishing vessels have shifted to gill nets. The shift is visible, and it will take another three years for a complete phase-out of trawling.”

According to Mr. Subburaj, out of 1,100 boats in Nagapattinam, only 400 use trawl nets, and a considerable number of boats have moved to gill nets. Similarly, around 500 boats in Rameshwaram, 250 in Tuticorin and 200 in Kanyakumari do trawling. They will shift eventually, he saysj.

In the meantime, the State government has a proposal for construction of Tuna long-liner vessels and gill net for deepsea fishing, with a 50 per cent subsidy or a maximum of Rs.30 lakh. The proposal is likely to be announced after the lifting of the model code of conduct.

“The issue is not about trawling and it will be wrong to ask for trawling rights in Sri Lankan waters. But, there are no fishes on our side. Fishermen should be given permission to use gill nets along the IMBL,” says Kumaravel, executive member, National Fisherfolks Forum.


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Printable version | Oct 21, 2021 6:19:26 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/tn-fishermen-seek-government-help-to-phase-out-trawlers/article6007627.ece

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