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18 Apr 2024
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Lockdown ease guidelines, no relief to Kerala seafood industry

Lockdown ease guidelines, no relief to Kerala seafood industry

Tthe All Kerala Fishing Boat Operators Association (AKFBOA) has requested the central government to be lenient on implementing the trawling ban this year. The ban on the East Coast comes into effect from April 15.

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KOCHI, 18 April 2020: Even though the government has announced guidelines to the fisheries sector during the lockdown period, the All Kerala Fishing Boat Operators Association (AKFBOA) has requested the central government to be lenient on implementing the trawling ban this year.

The trawling ban comes into effect from 15 April  2020 on the East Coast, but, fishermen have lost much of their time due to Coronavirus.

Kerala fishermen feel that due to this, the current lockdown in Tamil Nadu would come as a blessing for the fishermen in that region to recoup their business once the restrictions are over. Fishermen from Tamil Nadu will enter into Kerala’s coastal waters for poaching, leaving the fishing community here to remain mute spectators.

Speaking on this, Joseph Xavier Kalappurackal, General Secretary of AKFBOA said that each boat requires an initial investment of INR 250,000 to start operations and it would be difficult to raise this amount in this distressing period. 

Guidelines to revive fishing operations

The Ministry of Home Affairs guidelines issued recently to revive fishing operations in the country has not brought any cheer to the crisis-hit seafood industry, particularly in Kerala, as the sector is facing issues such as closing down of shrimp peeling centres, and raw material shortage, etc. 

In the exemption guidelines the peeling centers have not received any relief. There are about 400 peeling units across the coastal Ernakulam district that employ about 50,000 workers. Due to social distancing norms, many peeling centers have been forced to close down these units.

The relief issued by the central government is very difficult to be implemented due to no workforce, Satyanarain Lakkaraju, former president of All India Shrimp Hatcheries Association said.

The aquaculture sector is at a standstill in Andhra Pradesh in the absence of workers. Any decision to resume farming operations can be taken only after the lockdown period, he added. 

Trawling ban to be called off

The request of boat operators to call off the trawling ban this year due to the present fishing holidays in the lockdown period, has been turned down by the government. Even if boat owners are preparing to start operations, they will have limited time before the ban comes into effect, a fisherman told.

The government decision to ensure 45-day monsoon trawling ban on the West Coast from June 15 will make things worse, he added.

Seafood Exporters Association of India Secretary General Elias Sait said that said there are several ground-level issues that need to be addressed. Firstly the movement restrictions for cargo needs to be eased and secondly, the sector is facing a labour shortage, by about 20-30 percent. If the government takes positive steps, the sector would able to cope up with the situation. 

Allow NABH-accredited private labs for seafood export consignments

Sait also asked the government to give approvals from NABH-accredited private labs for seafood export consignments, as getting lab reports is not become difficult due to closing down of Export Inspection Agency offices, courier service companies to dispatch shipping documents overseas.

The easing of fishing restrictions comes at the most inappropriate time when the labourers have left following the lockdown and there was no transport available for the movement of the catch. It is It is better government extend the trawling ban period both in the East and West Coast, which would help to replenish the stock, West Coast Processing Fishing Welfare Association chairman Ganesh Nakhawa said.  

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