Boat owners approach authorities requesting a one-time exception

Fishers in the mechanised sector, who have lost over fifty working days during the pandemic, are a worried lot as the annual monsoon trawling ban comes into effect from the midnight of June 9.

The boat owners were not prepared for an extended lean season and they had already approached the authorities requesting a one-time exception to revive the industry. “Currently many sectors are facing huge crisis, but by lifting the ban the government can help lakhs of people and give the industry a chance to bounce back. Mechanised fishing boats in Kerala bring to shore seafood worth ₹50 crore every day and this is not a time to overlook that fact,” says Peter Mathias, president, All Kerala Fishing Boat Operators Association.

Reiterating the argument that the trawl ban in Kerala is unscientific, he adds that June-July is normally the breeding season for pelagic fish only. “In the current situation, a lot of people, including those working in allied activities, will be affected. Exporters will not be able to deliver owing to the lack of product. We are still hopeful that the government will realise the gravity of the situation and make some exceptions,” he says.

Lockdown woes

Thousands of boats in the mechanised sector have been lying idle since the lockdown and according to fishers, many of them could not resume operations even after the relaxation of norms. “In the first phase, only small boats were allowed and the entire sector became operational last week only. But half the crew members are not available now as the guest labourers have returned to their homes. This week, we were asked to suspend all fishing activities on a couple of days owing to the cyclone and the weather may continue like till June 9. By July, we will complete nearly five months without work,” says Lal, fisher.

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