KOCHI: The fisheries sector in the state is facing a crisis due to a huge dip in fish wealth in the recent years. The catch of sardine, a cheap protein-provider to many low-income households, has dwindled considerably and has affected the fishers across Kerala coastline. This has badly affected traditional fishermen, causing many businesses associated with fisheries to down their shutters. Though the subsequent governments have taken steps including imposing ban on monsoon trawling and juvenile fishing, the sector is in dire need of strong policy initiatives to help the fishermen tide over the current crisis.
The National Policy for Marine Fisheries 2016 (NPMF), which is in its third draft stage at present, was constituted with the mandate to reinvigorate and strengthen the sector. Even while lauding some of the recommendations of the NPMF, traditional fishermen feel some of the most important suggestions they made have been ignored.
In response to the second draft, Fisheries Minister J Mercykutty Amma and other stakeholders had given two major recommendations. The first was the implementation of Murari Committee for deep sea fishing and secondly, the inclusion of fishing beyond territorial waters and upto 200 nautical miles under the concurrent list. But the third draft is silent on them.
Charles George, president of Kerala Matsyathozhilali Aikyavedi said that the recommendations does not find place in the draft due to the interference of top government officials and other global influences. However, he said that he has sent a letter to Dr S Ayyappan, the chairman of the Committee, detailing the omissions and requesting to reconsider the various points raised by the traditional fishermen.