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More Boats Being Converted To Become Tuna Longliners India, December 3, 12

Fishermen hauling net from the sea to a boat that has been converted into a tuna liner off Tharuvaikulam in Tuticorin district

Of late, many mechanized boats are being converted into tuna liners by the fishermen of Tharuvaikulam coast, to exploit a good export potential.

After the conversion of the boats, which is encouraged with government subsidies, fishermen are getting a good catch of tuna, a fish that commands a good price in the export market. The tuna liners employ a less destructive and selective fishing gear than the driftnet fisheries in India. Eyeing a good export market, after getting subsidy, 60 boats had been converted into tuna liners at Tharuvaikulam alone, M. Paulraj, president, Mechanised Boat Owners’ Association, said here on Sunday.

More boats were waiting to be converted into tuna liners, he said. As the boats were equipped with hauling drums and device for hauling up nets, the machines have replaced six–hour labor on board. The environment-friendly machinery had facilitated conservation of fish stock, and other marine life, including endangered species, whereas in trawl fishing, the destructive gear would decimate the ecosystem on the seabed.

Besides, expenditure on diesel had been minimized as tuna fleets stayed in deep sea for a week to 10 days. Since the migratory oceanic fish such as tuna could be netted only 75 to 80 nautical miles off shallow waters, the converted liner could stay that far until a good haul of tuna was ensured, he added. A. Arulraj, treasurer, sought help to link exporters directly to market tuna fish.

Since the fishing potential of tuna had not been exploited in these waters, fishermen had been motivated to identify new fishing grounds to catch the high-value seafood through subsidies, Joint Director of Fisheries R. Amal Xavier toldThe Hindu.

“There are 139 tuna liners operating along the Tuticorin and Kanyakumari coast. There is a plan to increase the subsidy component to attract more number of fishermen to adopt this eco-friendly fishing method,” he said.

“The fish is mostly exported to Japan, Thailand and European Union nations, Director of Marine Products Export Development Authority, (Marketing), N. Ramesh, said. “We insist on quality enhancement and hygienic handling of tuna fish as its market value lies in its freshness,” he said.