Repairs to boats that have been idle for more than two months are not complete as experts and workers are abse…Read More
CHENNAI: The annual fishing ban is set to end on Sunday, a fortnight ahead than normal, but deep sea trawler owners in Chennai are not ready to put out to sea.
Repairs to boats that had been idle for more than two months are not complete, there are few operators available and there is no designated place for fish sale in retail and wholesale and for export, they say.
M E Raghupathi, who owns a trawler, said the experts from Cuddalore and Tuticorin who normally arrived in the city 10 days before the end of the ban to supervise repairs couldn’t come this year due to the lockdown and the boats were not sea-worthy.
Almost 80% of trawlers in Chennai are operated by guest workers from Andhra Pradesh who had gone home 10 days ago. “Without them trawlers cannot be operated,” said D Jayaram, another owner. Maintaining social distancing will also be difficult, he said, adding that a minimum of 10 crew members are needed on a deep-sea vessel.
Director of fisheries G S Sameeran has instructed officials at the fish landing centres and fishing harbour to earmark space for vessels coming from the deep sea and to ensure social distancing in retail and wholesale fish trade, said an official.
Even the fish export units, where 30% of the staff are guest workers, are finding it difficult to prepare to start operations. “Most of the workers in these units are from Kerala and it will be difficult to bring them here,” the official conceded.
Most trawler owners say they didn’t have liquid cash with them and had to borrow heavy sums to get ready to operate the vessels. This issue has to be sorted out by the authorities, said one owner.