The proposal to install wind mills in coastal waters has invited the wrath of fishing boat operators. They pointed out that the newly conceived idea of installing wind mills in the coastal waters within 12 nautical miles will thwart the prospects of fishing. “We are not against setting up windmills. But it should be on the shores itself without hindering free fishing”, said Joseph Xavier Kalapurackal, general secretary of All Kerala Fishing Boat Operators Association.

A memorandum in this regard and suggesting various other innovative measures to make sea fishing more rewarding has been submitted to the visiting NITI Aayog members in Kochi, he said.

The Association also urged the authorities to introduce a uniform law relating to deep sea fishing, which the State with coastal belts should observe uniformly protecting the interests of small vessels. This will definitely reduce the inter-state usurpation of coastal fishing.

A fish variety called mesopelagic species is abundantly available in the deeper waters of Arabian Sea to the tune of 1.6 million tonnes. The technicality, economics and modus of harnessing this stock of fish, which can be used only as fish meal, will open an industrial boom. CMFRI should come forward to help catch the fish by the fishermen who are naturally well equipped, he said.

Fishing boat operators also pointed out that the road cess imposed on diesel to meet the road developments on land is applicable to fuel used in boats as well. This is a paradox because no roads are built in the sea. The fishing folk who depend on mechanised fishing are a lot who thrive on a hand-to-mouth existence paying market rate on fuel without any subsidies.

Likewise, there is no insurance protection for fishing vessels and workers as the insurance companies charge exorbitant premiums that which the fishermen cannot afford. The Centre should therefore come forward with a reasonable insurance premium covering total and partial loss, he added.