KOLLAM: The fishing sector was paralysed on Thursday with some 3,800 fishing boats across the state taking part in the indefinite protest called by the All-Kerala fishing boat operators association. Their demands include subsidy for diesel used in fishing boats. The fish landing sites in Kollam, including the twin harbours of Neendakara and Sakthikulangara, were deserted though a few traditional fishing vessels were engaged in work. The fishermen also took out a protest march towards the fisheries office at Neendakara
The protesters have alleged huge increase in the fuel price after the BJP-led government came to power affecting the fishing sector and the livelihood of fishermen. A group of traditional fishermen also abstained from work in solidarity with the protesters. The association has demanded paying off the compensation to the victims of Ockhi disaster and implementation of the directives by the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute on the minimum legal size (MLS) of fish species.
The authorities slap heavy fine for the boats that catch small fishes disregarding the norm that they could be penalised only if the juvenile fishes are more than 50 percent of the entire catch. This was a fault committed by the state government while implementing the CMFRI recommendations, they said. The CMFRI had recommended minimum legal size (MLS) as a fish management tool with the ability to protect juvenile fish, maintain spawning stocks and control the sizes of fish caught.
This was in the wake of catching considerable amount of juveniles of small pelagics during the fishing seasons in a targeted manner to meet the demand of fish food plants. The MLS could be used to protect immature fish so that enough fish survive to grow and spawn, control the numbers and sizes of fish landed, maximize marketing and economic benefits and promote the aesthetic values of fish.