NAGAPATTINAM: Mechanised boat fishermen are returning to sea with the two-month annual fishing ban along the eastern coastal States of Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, Andhra Pradesh and Odisha, coming to end on Tuesday.
Mechanised fishing boats such as trawlers and gillnetters keep off the sea during the period to facilitate breeding of fishes in the Bay of Bengal. Over a thousand mechanised boats will venture into the sea from districts such as Nagapattinam, Mayiladuthurai, Karaikal, Pudukottai and Thanjavur on Tuesday night.
"We offered prayers to God for a new beginning. We prayed our trips should give us good catch and improve our livelihood," D Sakthivel, a boat owner from Akkaraipettai, said. Fishermen also prayed that their boats won't get into conflicts with Sri Lanka in the Palk Strait, something that has been a recurrent issue in the past.
Sakthivel said, "Our investment for each fishing trip is constantly on the rise, the main contributor being hike in fuel price. We request the government to make our livelihood easier by increasing the 1,800-litre monthly quota of subsidised fuel. It is sufficient for just one-third to one-fourth of our monthly trips. We also seek a reduction in duty levied on fuel."
Trawlers embark on fishing trips which can last from a day to a week. Thegill netters and longliners, which are otherwise known as deep-sea fishing boats, go on expedition which lasts from a week to 10 days.
S Thangamani, another boat owner, said, "We are concerned about the price of export quality seafood we fetch like squid and prawn. We do not get adequate price to meet the inflation and our investment. We seek government assistance in mediating and getting us good price for export quality seafood."
An official from the Fisheries Department said, "We urge the fishermen to carry documents such as boat registration certificate, fishing licence, boat insurance documents, identity card and their identity card. We also warn them against illegal fishing practices like pair trawling and purse seine fishing. We caution them not to cross the International Maritime Boundary Line."