NAGAPATTINAM: The mechanised boat fishers have requested to lift the annual fishing ban soon as they had completed over two months of not venturing into the sea.
Mechanised boats were banned from fishing since the lockdown was announced on March 23. The lockdown ban was already coinciding with the 61-day annual fishing ban. Since the two months are already complete, the fishers have requested to lift both the bans immediately. "A prolonged ban would be too much for us. At least 10-20 families depend on my boat. A prolonged ban could push them to the brink of desperation, " said S Kaliyamurthy, a mechanised boat owner from Nagapattinam.
The 61-day annual fishing ban falls in the period between April 15 and June 15 every year. This year, they were made to stop nearly a month before April 15.
"We respected the government's advisory on Coronavirus and refrained from fishing even before they had announced the lockdown. It is more than two months of ban now. So, it only fair to let us fish," said S Arumugam, another mechanised boat owner.
The report in March 31's publication of TNIE said that the State government had sent a proposal to the Centre to advance the annual fishing ban to the period between March 23 and May 23, so that the fishers can go into the sea. But, there is yet to be a significant development in the correspondence, and the proposal is still with the Centre.
Meanwhile, the annual one-time livelihood assistance of `5000 has been distributed to 1.8 lakh around fisher families in the State, including 21,000 families in Nagapattinam district. An additional amount of `2000t in two installments is also being credited as lockdown relief to the 4.64 lakh Fisheries Department's welfare board members that has 56,000 members.
"The livelihood assistance is 'peanuts' in terms of our survival. The relief is also not sufficient. There are other livelihoods dependent such as that of labourers, ice boys, diesel boys, janitors, fish sellers, traders and vehicle drivers. They are affected," said RMP Rajendra Nattar, a fisher-representative.
While speaking to TNIE, a senior official from the Fisheries Department said, "Our Department had proposed for the advancement of the annual fishing ban to March 23-May 23. We are still waiting for a response. The Centre may come up with a response after consulting other coastal states such as Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and West Bengal. We are hoping for the ban to lift in a week."