Kerala fisher groups rue 10-fold hike in boat licence fee
These fishermen, mostly from the Malabar, form small groups of four or five members and purchase pre-owned boats from Mangaluru.
KOCHI: Groups of small-scale fishermen who purchased pre-owned fishing boats availing loans hoping to improve their livelihood are now a worried lot. A 10-fold increase in licence fee has cast a shadow over their hopes. The state fisheries department recently raised the annual licence fee of small mechanised fishing boats measuring 12m to 14m from Rs 2,700 to Rs 26,700, which, according to the fishermen, is exorbitant.
There are around 500 fishing boats in this category operating on Kerala’s coasts. The fishermen who delayed payment of the licence fee hoping the government may reduce the amount got a kick in the teeth as the department has now served them a notice to pay a fine of Rs 90,000 as a late remittance fee.
“These boats operate in the territorial waters extending up to 12 nautical miles from the coast and they earn only a meagre income. These fishermen, mostly from the Malabar, form small groups of four or five members and purchase pre-owned boats from Mangaluru. These wooden boats are available for Rs 2 lakh to Rs 4 lakh. The fishermen renovate the wooden hull with a steel hull. These are not equipped to venture into the deep sea,” said All Kerala Fishing Boat Operators Association general secretary Joseph Xavier Kalappurackal.
The department seized around 10 boats last week for non-payment of licence fee and imposed a fine of Rs 90,000 on the owners for late remittance.