KOCHI: The fishing harbours across the state wear a deserted look as the fishing community has stopped venturing into the sea. The harbours that used to bustle with activity have slipped into slumber. Mechanised and country boats lie anchored near the harbour in long rows. It is another season of misery for the fishing community.
The traditional fishermen and the mechanised boat owners have voluntarily decided to stop the fishing operations in view of the lockdown. As the seafood exports have also come to a grinding halt, the sector is witnessing a total shutdown.
The mechanised boat owners were forced to stop fishing operations two weeks ago as most of the workers from Tamil Nadu returned to their native places in view of the Coronavirus threat. The traditional fishermen decided to wind up fishing operations in Tuesday after the government announced a complete lockdown.
“Most of the traditional fishermen had stopped venturing into the sea in view of the depleting fish stocks in the coastal sea. A single day’s fishing expense comes to Rs 25,000 and most of the boats don’t get enough catch to meet the expenses,” said Traditional Fishermen Co-ordination Committee secretary PB Dayanandan.
There are around 1.41 lakh fishermen in the state and around 5 lakh people depend on the sector for their livelihood. “We have urged the chief minister to announce a compensation package for the fishing community and provide a monthly compensation of Rs 5,000 to each fisherman. All fishermen families should be provided free ration and medical aid,” demanded Kerala Matsya Thozhilali Aikya Vedi president Charles George.
“The fishing industry is in deep peril as seafood export companies have been hit hard by crisis. Most of the exporters are holding stocks and payment to boat owners has been delayed. Ice plant owners, boat workshops, auctioneers and other stakeholders are also feeling the pinch,” said All Kerala Fishing Boat Operators Association general secretary Joseph Xavier Kalappurackal.
“We had dispatched consignments to China, Vietnam, the US and Europe during the past week. However, most of these consignments have not received clearance certificate, which has landed us in deep trouble. We have sent a representation to the Union Commerce Minister seeking immediate intervention to avoid rejection of the consignments,” said Seafood Exporters Association of India Kerala region president Alex K Ninan.
“The bulk of our seafood exports is to South-East Asian countries, China and Europe. We will ensure that the relief announced by the government is extended to the fishermen,” said Fisheries deputy director Maja Jose.