Stress on deep-sea fishing
The Central and Tamil Nadu governments should expeditiously take up the implementation of a project for deep-sea fishing as this is the prerequisite to resolving the problem being faced by fishermen of the State, Puducherry and Northern Province (Sri Lanka), according to M. Ilango, National Fishworkers’ Forum.
Explaining how the issue of bottom trawling came in the way of arriving at a settlement between the two fishing communities despite several rounds of talks, Mr. Ilango, who also took part in the discussion on Wednesday last, says that while the Indian side sought a period of three years for withdrawal of bottom trawlers, the Sri Lankan side was not willing to let the trawlers “even for three minutes and its “flat rejection” was based on the apprehension that the Indian fishermen would not stick to any time frame, in the event of an agreement on this aspect.
To overcome the stalemate, Mr. Ilango, who hails from Karaikal (Puducherry), wants the immediate execution of the project for deep-sea fishing. This should be followed up with an assurance by the Indian government to the Sri Lankan government that it would ensure that its fishermen would honour the agreement.
He dismisses the contention in certain quarters that fishing boats or bottom trawlers are owned by political leaders or other influential elements or big corporate entities. “The situation here is not like what you see in Vishakhapatnam or Kakinada. Here, there are only 2,000 licensed trawlers against the countrywide figure of one lakh.
Pointing out that the Centre has not yet acted upon the State government’s package of Rs. 1,520 crore for diversification of fisheries, a source in the Tamil Nadu government says the State has, however, gone ahead with the implementation of some components of the package. It has initiated a scheme at a cost of around Rs. 51 crore for the construction of the long liners. Work on 171 has commenced. But, many more trawlers require to be replaced and this is why the State has mooted a proposal, as part of the package, for Rs. 975 crore for deep-sea tuna long liners. The State government has also sought an assistance of Rs. 80 crore for stationing a mother vessel mid-sea and supplying baby vessels for commercial fishing in the deep seas. These two components will reduce the pressure of bottom trawling in the Palk Bay, the source adds.
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