Seafood exporters' concern over skirmishes

KOCHI OCT 28. The Seafood Exporters Association of India has expressed concern over the "unreasonable and parochial'' attitude of the boat owners here which is detrimental to the seafood industry.

The assoication wanted the Kerala Government to take a firm stand against such an attitude by the boat owners and to instill in them the feeling that territorial waters of the country were open to fishermen of other States . The present short-sighted policy was more akin to the cashew growers of Kerala insisting on an embargo of raw cashew being imported and being sourced from other Indian States, pointed out A. J. Tharakan, national president of the SEAI, here today. According to him, the agitation by the boat owners of Kerala against the fishing boats operating from Kolachal and Kanyakumari was totally "unjustified" and "detrimental to the fishing interests of the State and the seafood-exporting factories situated here. He said the Kerala seafood industry was mainly dependent on raw material from outside the State. Almost over 60 per cent of the raw material exported from Kerala came from Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu , Maharashtra and even Gujarat. The fishing boats that had been destroyed off the Kochi coast are the ones that fish for more than 15 to 20 days mainly in the coastal waters of Maharashtra, Goa and Karnataka. Their main catches were large fishes like Snapper, Seer fish, Reef cod, which landed in Kerala fishing harbours and processed and exported by seafood factories in Kerala, Mr. Tharakan pointed out.

Most of the deep-sea shrimp, the main source of raw material for Kerala's exporters, was caught by these large boats.

Due to the current agitation, most of the seafood factories were without adequate raw material. If this situation continued, there would be major lay-off of workers by the peeling sheds and seafood factories, he said.

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