Mangaluru: Although the Union budget has promised them a separate fisheries department and loans at 2 per cent interest, fishermen here are unhappy that their long standing demands for a separate ministry of fisheries and their inclusion in the scheduled tribe list has not been met yet again.
Noting that the fisheries sector not only provides huge employment along the state's coast, but also fetches thousands of crores in foreign exchange through export of fish, the fishermen believe it should no longer be part of the agriculture ministry, and is entitled to a ministry of its own.
"Setting up of a department will not help as it will again have to beg for funds and projects from the agriculture ministry. Nobody seems to understand this," regrets former president of the Mogaveera Vyavastapana Mandali, Yathish Baikampady.
In his view, the funds allocated to a separate ministry of fisheries could help the sector invest in modernisation and projects like creation of artificial reefs for fish breeding. "Development of the sector will not only create more employment opportunities , but also fetch the country huge revenue and foreign exchange," he contends.
Vice president of the National Fish Workers Forum, Vasudev Boloor, says the voice of the fishermen is hardly heard in the agriculture ministry, which focuses more on farmers. "Our demands are hardly heard. If a ministry is set up, we could have a separate budget allocation, a minister and a ministry to listen to our problems and demands," he points out, adding, "In nine states, fishermen communities are in the scheduled list but not in Karnataka. The proposal to include them in the list was sent from the state government to the Centre, but it has not responded yet."...