BALASORE: The traditional fishermen of Balasore district find themselves in deep waters after the Government restricted entry of country boats into the sea besides mechanised vessels and trawlers to facilitate fish breeding process.
The two-month restriction began on April 15 and country boats have been included this year. The decision has hit more than 30,000 traditional fishermen in Balasore and Bhadrak districts below the belt. Fishing has been restricted within 20 nautical miles of the sea.
The fishermen, who used to catch fish with their small nets within a radius of 2 to 3 km, have also been banned from this year.
Kamalakanta Mallik (50) of Bahabalpur in Balasore district is worried about the survival of his five-member family. With no agricultural land to fall back on, he had taken up fishing.
Mallik owns one country-boat through which he and two others eke out a living. With no other livelihood option in sight during the ban period, he has taken up labour work to maintain his family.
“For more than three decades I have been managing my family from fishing but the ban has left me jobless,” he said. Apart from 30,000 traditional fishermen families, nearly 20,000 other families who depend on fishing through motorised boats have also been hit.
Even as estimated 50,000 marine fishermen families in both the coastal districts are forced to go without livelihood for nearly six months, the Fisheries department has failed to come out with an alternative for them, who solely depend on fishing.
Recently, more than 200 fishermen from Bahabalpur had staged a demonstration before the collectorate against the ban and submitted a memorandum to the Collector demanding lifting of ban on country-boats.
They claimed that traditional marine fishermen fish within 5 km from the coast as their small boats are not equipped to venture into deep sea.
“Conservation of endangered Olive Ridleys and other aquatic creatures should not come at the cost of the livelihood of traditional fishermen, as they cause no harm to these species. The Government should provide an alternative source of income before imposing the ban,” demanded Bimal Lochan Dalai, a fisherman.
Although the State Government had thought of introducing subsistence package for the affected fishermen to compensate for prohibition-induced loss of occupation and suggested a monthly allowance of `2,700 and `1,350 respectively for full-time and part-time fishermen, the proposal is gathering dust with no aid coming from the Centre.