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144 Fishermen Ready To Sell Their Trawlers And Take Up Subsidized Tuna Long Lining

In a move to wean away fishermen from trawler fishing, which often leads to their arrest by the Sri Lankan Navy, the Fisheries Department has sent eight fishermen from Rameswaram to Thoothoor in Kanyakumari district for a 10-day training program in tuna longliner operations.

The fishermen started showing interest in tuna longliner fishing after the government enhanced the subsidy for the operations to 50 percent recently, official sources here said.

The fishermen were expected to return in couple of days after the training for three days on the shore and seven days in deep sea.

The department provided conveyance and a daily allowance of Rs.200 to the fishermen undergoing training, and the trainers too were given the daily allowance, the sources said.

“The fishermen will be interested in taking up multi-day deep sea fishing, but the government should give them the vessels, costing Rs.30 lakh each, at a subsidized rate,” P.Sesu Raja, district secretary, Tamil Nadu Coastal Mechanized Boat Fishermen Association, said.

Pointing out that the Rameswaram fishing jetty was overcrowded with more than 800 trawlers, he said the jetty should be decongested for problem-free operations.

He said names of 144 fishermen, who were willing to sell their trawlers to the government under the buy-back policy and take up alternative livelihood, had been given to the department.

If the government came out with an alternative package, 100 more fishermen would be willing to sell their boats, he added.

The district administration was making arrangements to move some fishermen to Soliakudi, Vattanam and Thondi coasts to decongest the Rameswaram jetty, but the fishermen could not move out immediately.

They said they had been on strike for a month even before the 45-day ban period started, and they should make good their losses before they take a decision in this regard, he said.

The South Indian Federation of Fishermen Societies (SIFFS), a voluntary organization working with Rameswaram fishermen for 15 years, suggested a three-stage solution to address the problem of fishermen crossing the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL).

It called for the development of a good system of fishing management with the cooperation of the fishermen and the government.

The SIFFS, which had facilitated dialogues between the fishermen from Rameswaram and Sri Lanka in 2004 and 2010, wanted the government to take the initiative now.

Sources in the SIFFS said it would not be easy to organize dialogue this time, as the agreements reached after two rounds of dialogues in 2004 and 2010 were given a go-by by the Indian fishermen. Our fishermen had increased the size of their trawlers, enhanced the engine power and used banned nets, they said.