CHENNAI:Though the government claims that a 45-day ban on fishing (which began on April 14) is essential for breeding, it is just an ‘eyewash’, says Nanjil P Ravi, spokesperson of All India Fishermen’s Association.
The government says that this is the best time for breeding along the east coast, but this is just a false assumption, says Ravi.
“The underlying intention is to allow other countries to fish here and thus spoil our fish resource. The government does not stop industries from polluting the coastal areas, which also affects the breeding,” he says.
Around 65,00,000 fishermen are badly affected by the ban, and the business in big markets like Chintadripet, Royapuram and Kasimedu has also been hit. The ban has a direct impact on the lives of fishermen and wholesale dealers, he says.
Around 1,100 mechanised boats will stay on the shore and the boatmen are directly affected, as the maintenance of boats is costlier than the allowance offered to them, he says.
The next big threat to fishermen, according to Nanjil, is the extension of the ban to 61 days. This might even cause them to starve for days, he adds. “However, fishermen will not leave their work for anything else, however bad their financial position is. When they are not fishing, they indulge in other works like maintenance of boats, stitching fishing nets, etc.,” says Nanjil. “We know nothing but fishing, and we don’t want to go for other jobs. It is like betraying our sea god,” adds John, a fishermen from Villivakkam. “Sea and fishing are like god and mother to us. We will never deceive them and go elsewhere,” adds Solomon, a fisherman from Royapuram.
To manage during the ban period, fishermen have put forth certain demands to the government. The present demand is to increase the allowance from `44 to `100 per day. According to Nanjil, even if a family has more than one fisherman, only the head of the family is given the allowance. While the State Government atleast offers funds for fishermen, the Centre contributes nothing.
“The overall profit to India’s economy from the fisheries sector is 35 crore, 17-18 per cent of which is from Tamil Nadu. If the Central Government wants profit from us, it should also help us,” he says.
Fishermen suggest measures such as installing artificial coral reefs that help in breeding by increasing the level of oxygen. They request industries to stop leakage of oil and other forms of pollutants into the sea, and employ artificial breeding of sea species.
This apart, they request the government to shift the ban to October-November, or split the period into two periods of 30 days each. This, they say, will be very useful in catching rare and popular varieties.
“The Kerala Government employs a few methods to store fish prior to the ban. This helps both sellers and buyers. Tamil Nadu should also frame such programmes,” says Nanjil.