CHENNAI: Tension prevailed in Pulicat on Tuesday when trawlers from Karaikal trespassed into shoreline waters within five nautical miles and damaged fishing gears of country craft fishermen. The trawlers were allegedly fitted with banned Chinese engines and had no registration numbers. The conflict reached the tipping point after a group of 50 fishermen in about six speed boats chased a trawler for about 20 to 25 km and surrounded it near Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh.
M Mathialagan, leader of 13 fishing villages in Pulicat, said it was not a stray incident. Several trawlers from Karaikal have been repeatedly violating TN Marine Fishing Regulation Act, 2016 rules and fishing within five nautical miles, damaging local fishermen’s nets. “This has been on for two years and we have suffered damages close to Rs 1.5 crore,” he said, adding most trawlers are fitted with 500HP engines. As per the Act, trawlers are allowed to fit a maximum of 250 HP engine.
“Around 7 am on Tuesday, we received information of multiple trawlers operating close to the shores. So, our fishermen chased and rounded one of the trawlers; we only wanted to talk. But they curled glass bottles and other heavy objects at us and fled. Two of us sustained minor injuries,” he added. The fishermen have lodged a complaint with Tiruvallur District Collector Alby John and Assistant Director of Fisheries G Velan.
Alby John, who visited Pulicat and interacted with fishermen, told TNIE all necessary measures to protect the interest and livelihood of local fishermen will be taken. “I have asked the Assistant Director of Fisheries to file a report and forward to headquarters to escalate the issue.”
The trawlers did not have registration numbers making it difficult to identify its owners, said Velan. “I am preparing a detailed report highlighting all the violations. The Puducherry government has to take action,” he added.
Trawlers with heavy nets sweep ocean floors, scraping it off en masse with all life forms, said Durai Mahendran, president of State Fishermen’s Association. “The fine mesh size of the nets do not let juveniles and sometimes, eggs and larvae, escape.”
Meanwhile, Ethiraj, a fisherman from Arankuppam in Pulicat, also sought the help of TN Coast Guard to prevent illegal trawler vessels from entering the State’s waters.