THOOTHUKUDI: Fisher folks in the district requested the State government to shift the 61-day fishing ban to November-December citing Northeast monsoon resulting into life loss of fishermen to be the reason.
The State government has issued a 61-day ban on fishing by mechanised vessels from April 15 in order to support fish breeding. Following the ban, at least 12,000 mechanised vessels would be on shore in Tamil Nadu.
The coastal district with 150 km long stretch of a coastline has three mechanised vessel fishing jetties. While Thoothukudi and Vembar fishing harbours comprise 240 and 36 mechanised vessels attached with trawlers, the Tharuvaikulam fishing harbour has 220 mechanised gill net vessels. Over 496 mechanised vessels would be on shore from April 15. The country boats are not prohibited from fishing as they fish close to the shore i.e., less than 12 nautical miles.
Puthiya Tamilagam party founding president Dr K Krishnasamy also urged the State to shift the ban period to November-December.
"The sea remains calm during April-May. Fishermen could engage in brisk fishing. It is a double whammy for the State to provide compensation during the April-May fishing ban, and rush to help the ailing fishermen in the mid-sea during rough weather conditions of November and December," said former MLA of Ottapidaram constituency.
Joint Director Amal Xavier said that the fishing vessels would return ashore until April 14 mid night to wind up fishing. The fishing ban is invoked along the east coast of the State to boost fishing resources as April and May are the breeding season. During the ban period, at least 15,000 fishermen holding membership cards in the district would be given a relief of `5,000 each to support their livelihood, he added.
A senior official from the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI) told TNIE that a majority of the fish breed during April and May. "Even though some fishes breed during the rainy season, most of the fish breed during summer season. The fishing ban is essential to protect the gravid females and the juveniles to maintain the fish population in the sea," she said.
The fishermen noted, "Fishers from Kerala catch fish where we fish during our absence. In Kerala the fishing ban period is during June and July. The disastrous Ockhi, Gaja and Buveri cyclones have struck the fishermen hard during the northeast monsoon. The safety of fishermen should be paramount."
Thoothukudi mechanised vessel owners association president Xavier Vaz also concurred with the district fishermen on shifting the ban period. "The State government has ignored the views of experienced fishers while implementing the fishing ban that was suggested by the Central government. As far as the safety of fishermen and vessels is concerned, it is better to prohibit fishing during November and December," he said.
Another CMFRI official said that the matter was under discussion since it was a long pending issue. The fishing ban is an approach with an ambition to replenish fishery, he added.