KOCHI: The fishing community has demanded stringent laws and an enhanced monitoring system to tackle errant ships in the wake of the ‘hit and run’ case in which a fishing boat sank after it was hit by a container ship off Alappuzha on Sunday.
With the memory of the killing of two fishermen by Italian marines in 2012 still green in memory, the fisherfolk called upon the state government to factor in the perilous working conditions and ensure their safety.
Fishermen say that venturing into the seas itself posed a threat to life and the big ships’ wanton disregard for the laws have only exacerbated the danger involved.
Joint Director of Fisheries K K Satheesh Kumar said the Department had warned the fishermen to stay clear of ship routes. “Many of them spread the net and sleep off, which causes mishaps. Currently, only a few boats have safety features like signal light and signal flag,” he said.
“Most of the traditional fishermen have boats that cannot survive a collision with a ship. It is for the ship and its helmsman to stay clear of the small boats. But, nowadays, they hardly do that,” says a fisherman. There have been many incidents of vessels colliding with fishing boats lately.Barely days after the Italian marines on board Enrica Lexi shot dead two fishermen off Kerala, mv Prabhu Daya had collided with a fishing trawler leaving three fishermen dead. In March 2013, cargo vessel Izumo had rammed and sunk a fishing boat near Beypore and the men on board had a narrow escape.
“Cases of attempt to murder and criminal negligence should be charged against the vessel that was involved in Sunday’s accident. The vessel had not followed safety measures as stipulated by International Maritime Organisation. From what I came to know, the ship has only been booked on minor charges,” said Charles George, state president, Trade Union Centre of India.
Apart from due compensation for the victims, George urged the state and the Centre to formulate laws with regard to surveillance, safety and compensation in case of mishaps. It was around 3 am on Sunday, that a container ship rammed a fishing boat 68 nautical miles off Alappuzha, destroying it completely. All the seven fishermen on board were injured. The container ship reportedly sped away after the mishap and it was only due to the alertness on the part of the boats stationed nearby that the lives of the sailors could be saved.