KOLLAM: The harbours in the state have sprung back to life as the 47-day trawling ban is set to end on Friday midnight.
Neendakara and Shaktikulangara harbours in Kollam, two of the major fishing hubs in the state, where over a thousand boats operate, saw frantic activity in the last two days as the fishermen prepare to venture into deep sea from Saturday.
At the harbours in Kollam, fishermen were seen taking out fishing equipment to the harbour and a few boats were painted in the new colours prescribed by the Fisheries Department to make them easily distinguishable.
As per the new pattern, the wheelhouse of the boats has to be painted in bright orange and the rest in blue.
Migrant workers, mostly from the north-eastern part of the country, are flocking to the harbours in search of jobs. As many as 22 ice plants between Shaktikulangara and Thoppilkadavu are working over time to meet the huge requirement for ice blocks. Boats that sail for 5-7 days in sea need nearly 400 blocks of ice a day.
The diesel bunks were opened a few days ago and most of the boats have filled the fuel on Thursday itself.
As the trawling ban ends, the boat operators who had to suffer the double whammy of the Central and State government bans are finally a relieved lot.
In effect, they had to face a ban of 61 days as the Central Government ban on deep sea fishing started on June 1. The ban on fishing between 10-12 nautical miles, imposed by the state government, came into effect only on June 14 even though they were advised to follow the ban from June 1.
The trawling ban covered the stretch from Muttom in the south to the coast near Mangalore in the north.
The ban had dealt a financial blow to many fishermen. “Our catch has been significantly affected. Only boats who harvest shells made a little money. Our financial situation were badly affected and we do not have enough money to carry out maintenance work on all boats” said M S James, the state president of Boat Operators Association.
The fishermen were also unable to reap the benefits on the business of certain varieties of quality shrimp, such as Indian Red Shrimp (locally known as Pullan Chemmeen) due to the ban.
The trawling ban, which was imposed by the state government since 1988 on an experimental basis for three years, were enforced every subsequent year even as the scientific community debate its efficacy.
Boat operators lose significant money during the ban period when the boats of neighbouring Tamil Nadu could venture in deep sea for high value fish. Even on Saturday morning, when the ban gets removed these boats which are already fishing at Tamil Nadu sea would be coming to the harbours here to sell their catch, said James.
The fishermen are looking forward to good catch in the coming days and are hopeful of netting fish varieties such as Kilimeen (Threadfin Bream), Kanava (Squid) and Karikadi shrimp (Parapenaeopsis Stylifera).
At the current market rate one crate of Kilimeen will fetch around Rs 10,000, the fishermen say.
End to the ordeal
■ The 47-day trawling ban, which started on June 14, is set to end on Friday
■ The trawling ban covered the stretch from Muttom in the south to the coast near Mangalore in the north
■ The boat operators are heaving a sigh of relief as they had to suffer the double whammy of the Central and State government bans