Ban ends, but fishermen keep the sea at bay – the New Indian Express
Express news service
NAGAPATTINAM: The annual 61-day fishing ban in the eastern coastal states ended on Monday. But the fishermen have not resumed their routine because normality has not yet returned. Mechanized boat fishermen in the three districts of the coastal delta – Nagapattinam, Mayiladuthurai and Karaikal – have postponed their fishing plans for at least two weeks. All thanks to the Covid-induced lockdown due to which they were unable to have their boats repaired / maintained or granted loans for it.
“All repair units near the ports of Nagapattinam, Poompuhar and Pazhaiyar are closed due to the lockdown. We barely received loans to repair our boats, ”said S Mohandas, a boat owner from Akkaraipettai in Nagapattinam district. Boat owners typically repair and overhaul their trawlers and gillnets during the two-month blackout period. Very few boat owners have made use of their loans under the Kisan credit card program in the two districts. Others are willing to spend on their own or take an interest in private lenders. However, in Karaikal, where shops were allowed to open during authorized hours, the availability of spare parts was a major issue.
Seafood exports affected
Due to travel restrictions, major seafood companies / exporters were unable to travel to the coastal district to source seafood. Three of these Tuticorin-based companies typically visit Nagapattinam and Mayiladuthurai to source seafood such as squid, cuttlefish, shrimp and shrimp for export to foreign countries. With the two districts being among 11 strictly restricted districts, the companies have postponed their visits. “Our pimps are the same who get their supplies from Nagapattinam. As they don’t come to get hold of, our mechanized boats don’t go fishing either, ”said K Murali, a fisherman from Kilinjalmedu in Karaikal district.
Not all vaccinated
Compliance with Covid guidelines is still seen as a challenge in fishing ports. The decrease in the number of vaccinations has prompted the fishermen’s panchayats to think a lot about the resumption of fishing. “It is not possible to constantly follow guidelines such as social distancing in congested places like fishing ports and landing centers. We are not becoming new sources of the virus spread. We ask the state to vaccinate us before resuming fishing, ”said R Raja, member of the Tharangambadi fishing panchayat in Mayiladuthurai. In Karaikal, the health department organized an intensive vaccination campaign in 11 fishing hamlets.