Shortage of labourers hits fishing operations

Delay alleged in issuing fitness certificates

Though fishing harbours and fish landing centres in the district were reopened on Monday by complying with the COVID-19 protocol, about 30 trawler boats at Beypore harbour could not operate because of shortage of labourers.

Fishermen union leaders said some of the technicalities related to the issuance of fitness certificates to migrant fishers were causing issues to them. “The larger boats, each cost at least ₹25 lakh, have been lying idle at Karuvanthiruthi for over six months. Many of the boats will have to be repainted to prevent rusting. Boat owners are finding it difficult to get labourers and mobilise money for the pending repairing works,” said Karichal Preman, vice president, All Kerala Fishing Boat Owners Association.

He said the process to issue fitness certificates for migrant fishermen should be simplified to help the remaining trawlers resume operations. He said that Health and Fisheries officials should adopt feasible measures to speed up the process.

Boat owners from Beypore harbour said the latest unlock guidelines permitting the reopening of harbours and fish landing centres were only addressing concerns of local fishers. According to them, service of more number of trawler boats will only help fishermen families.

Safety concerns

Meanwhile, Fisheries Department sources said the permissible number of trawler boats from the harbour area had already been granted clearance for operation and the case of remaining ones could be considered only in accordance with the next phase of unlock action plan. The trawlers that resumed operation from Beypore had gone through the same procedures insisted by the district administration to fight COVID-19 spread effectively in the coastal area, they said.

An official attached to the Fisheries Department said the operation of only 50% of the total fishers would be allowed at present at harbours and fish landing centres considering safety aspects.

“Clearance can be given to the remaining segment only by complying with this ratio for their own safety,” he said.

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