For a long time, the fishing community in Tamil Nadu has nursed the grouse that apart from news of a mid-sea attack or a cyclone governments have hardly spared a thought about it. But this year’s budget could be a turning point, with bureaucrats hinting at a thrust on tech support, financial assistance and infra development for marine as well as inland fishery.
Given the political scenario, where the AIADMK government has been on a project announcement spree, fisherfolk hope the upcoming Budget will have some surprises. The government is expected to give a major push by equipping 5,000-odd mechanised boats with transponders in the coming year. Developed by Isro as a means of tracking and communication system
for deep sea fishermen, the transponders were fitted in 500 vessels on a pilot basis. “The Centre has sanctioned the proposal to expand it to all mechanised boats in TN,” said G S Sameeran, director of fisheries.
S Xavier Vas, president of Tuticorin Mechanised Boat Owners Association, says the state should fix a minimum sale price for fish to put an to end traders’ syndicate that fixes low prices. He also pointed out a mechanised boat requires `1.7 lakh a day to sail. “A boat might take nearly nine days to return. We borrow money for a steep interest of up to `3 lakh. After repayment we are left with a pittance. The government should provide short terms loans at low interest,” he said.
There is also a need for increasing subsidy for deep sea fishing boats, say fishermen. Bose said despite the present subsidy of `56 lakh for a craft, fishermen have to bear `24 lakh. “We also have to spend around `50 lakh on fishing gear. That makes it unaffordable for most,” he said.