‘Government should allow fishing from May 15 onwards

April 11, 2020
Chennai: Tamil Nadu fishermen are planning to request the state government to allow fishing from May 15 onwards and also to make arrangements at major fish landing centres for wholesalers to procure the catch.

“On Friday, a telecon of fishermen associations from different districts was held. We will be requesting the government to allow us to go into the sea from May 15 onwards,” K. Bharathi, President, South Indian Fishermen Welfare Association told IANS.

Queried about the breeding season and the ban on fishing that is normally imposed between April 15 to June 15, he said: “It will not impact the fish breeding as fishermen do not use closely knit nets. Secondly, many fish varieties breed during October – November. The government should announce clearly the actual breeding season.”

“Earlier the ban period was only for 45 days and the government paid Rs 5,000 as compensation for loss of earnings. Later the fishing ban period was increased to 61 days with no corresponding hike in the compensation,” Bharathi added.

Tamil Nadu fishermen’s livelihood has been severely affected due to the lockdown as the government has banned fishing.

In Chennai, the government has closed the Kasimedu harbour as the crowd comprising of wholesalers, retailers and general public was huge thereby increasing the risk of Coronavirus infection.

“The government should talk with the fishermen and work out ways and means so that there is no crowding at the fish landing centre. The government should allow only wholesalers and the retailers, general public should be allowed to buy from the local markets,” he added.

According to him, the fish sold in the markets in Chennai are brought from Andhra Pradesh and other places while Tamil Nadu fishermen are not able to go to the sea.

Pointing out the government’s focus on arranging logistics for groceries and vegetables, Bharathi said some focus could be thrown at the fisheries sector as well.

According to him, the financial compensation offered by the government is not sufficient even for workers.

Recently noted agriculture scientist M.S. Swaminathan had said there is an urgent and immediate need for assistance for India’s marine fishermen as the annual fishing ban is to start on April 15.

Swaminathan, founder of the M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF), said the marine fishers are restricted by the Covid-19 lockdown from March 20, they are additionally facing the annual fishing ban from April 15 until June 15 along India’s east coast.

This means they will potentially be unable to fish for as many as 90 days and quick and effective intervention is required to support fishermen.

According to him, the fishing ban coinciding with the biological breeding period should be safeguarded; otherwise the reproductive cycle of the fish will be interrupted with long-term consequences.

“Adjustments are needed to provide immediate relief to COVID-19-affected fishing communities. This should not be connected to regular payments like fishing ban compensation,” he said.IANS