Union Minister for Food and Civil Supplies K V Thomas has called for setting up an independent agency dedicated for development and maintenance of fishing harbours in the state.
The minister was speaking after inaugurating the Cochin Fisheries Harbour at Thoppumpady on Monday.
“There is a delay in implementing projects aimed at developing fishing harbours. The work on the Vizhinjam project, for instance, began some 50 years ago and is still lagging. What we need is an independent agency with representatives from the Port Trusts, Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA) and other bodies concerned that can look into the development and upkeep of the various harbours,” said Thomas.
Thomas said the strict standards set by the European Union on the export of marine products has meant that the quality control in harbours is significant.
“The products exported now carry details like place and harbour where the fish was netted. Moreover, inspections are held at harbours and the quality standards are maintained. This signifies the need to have an independent agency to look after the affairs of fishing harbours,”, said the minister.
Countries like Japan and Thailand are now ahead of us in exports only because of the standards they maintain. Like Munambam, the Thoppumpady harbour should also be a model one. This can be achieved only with the participation of all fishermen's bodies, unions and authorities concerned, he said.Speaking at the event, Ports Minister K Babu said the Chellanam fishing harbour will be completed within a year if land acquisition is completed. A slew of developmental projects, including a number of ports and fishing harbours, are coming up in the state. Development works like dredging have also been sanctioned, he said.
The Thoppumpady Fishing Harbour has been renovated at a cost of `12 crore. The project is aimed at meeting the international standards of hygiene and cleanliness and ensuring fish quality and food safety.
Construction of finger jetty, effluent treatment plant, dredging, construction of ground and overhead water tanks, provision of power washing facilities, renovation work on the wharf frontage, improvements to roads and drainage systems and infrastructure to provide basic amenities for fishermen are some of the infrastructure developments undertaken under the projects.