THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Having imposed a ban on fishing as a pandemic containment measure, the government remains helpless in controlling incursions by fishing boats from neighbouring states.
While expressing resentment at the fishing ban, fishermen complained that boats from Tamil Nadu and Karnataka operate with impunity at night.“We have collected details on the illegal fishing activities. But the marine enforcement wing lacks a proper mechanism to deal with boats from other states,” said T Peter, general secretary, National Fishworkers’ Forum (NFF).
He said no action has been taken despite the authorities at the top being informed of the illegal activities. The fishermen alleged that patrolling by the Fisheries-Marine Enforcement was ineffective.“They would stop whenever the sea becomes rough because the boats they have hired are not suitable for patrolling. The fishermen they chase have better vessels,” Peter said.The Fisheries-Marine Enforcement Cell has refuted the allegations. Cell SP J Kishorkumar said night patrolling was done based on specific information.
“Patrolling is conducted actively within our jurisdiction of 12 nautical miles. But some of the movements have been noticed beyond that,” he said.With just six police officers, the Cell lacks the manpower to carry out patrolling effectively.
Out of the six policemen, two are in quarantine. Patrolling is carried out with the help of fishermen trained as part of the Sea Rescue Squad. But the squad members, comprising 200 youths, are a dejected lot as they are employed on ad hoc basis for three months and left to fend for themselves at other times.“The government should utilise the fishermen’s skills and make permanent appointments for rescue operations,” Peter said. Fishermen in the state have lost the season from June to August due to Covid containment measures.