Fishing boats across Kerala are staying off the waters from February 15 following a strike called by the All Kerala Fishing Boat Operators Association raising a number of demands including providing subsidy for diesel and correcting anomalies in the Kerala Marine Fishing Regulation (Amendment)Act.
Mechanised boats are a major source of supply for the seafood exporters who exported 11,34,948 tonne of seafood, worth Rs 37,870.90 crore in 2016-17.
Joseph Xavier Kalapurackal, general secretary of the All Kerala Fishing Boat Operators’ Association (AKFBOA) said that 3,800 mechanised boats and trawlers , employing more than 45,000 workers will stay away from fishing until the demands are met.
He added that the hike in diesel prices has seriously impacted the trade which captures Rs 15 crore worth of ocean fish per day.
“A boat on an average needs 3000-5000 litres of diesel for every trip and the regular increase is a cause of concern. While other maritime states give a subsidy of `50,000 per boat every year ,Kerala does not give us any subsidy for fishing. We are even charged Re 1 per litre as road cess while we don’t use the road ,” he added.
The association also demanded that the Fisheries Department stop framing of bogus charges against operators in the name of catching juvenile fish.Correcting anomalies in the Kerala Marine Fishing Regulation (Amendment)Act is a major demand of the association.
“The authorities are supposed to act against juvenile fishing if only juvenile fish constitute 50% of the total catch.The fisheries officials seize the boat even if a nominal quantity of juveniles are seen in the catch,” Xavier said.
He added that most of the fish are migratory and they can only be caught while they are in the fishing zone near to the country.