Odisha fishers seek higher compensation for 2-month ban

Central, state assistace doesn’t compare with market rate; women not covered under scheme

By Hrusikesh Mohanty
Published: Monday 18 April 2022
Odisha fishing community demands higher compensation from Centre for 2-month ban Photo: Hrusikesh Mohanty

The fishing community in Odisha demanded an increase in livelihood support from the Centre during the annual 61-day fishing ban across the East Coast that commenced April 15, 2022, according to an official of the state fisheries department. 

The ban was imposed to facilitate fish breeding in the sea and prohibits fishing through mechanised boats, big vessels and trawlers. Each family gets a compensation of Rs 4,500 under the central government’s saving-cum-relief scheme during the period to make up for their losses. They want this amount to be increased to Rs 15,000.

Around 150,000 traditional fisherfolk in Odisha dependent will be affected by the restriction, said a member of the Odisha Traditional Fish Workers’ Union (OTFWU). Around 22,000 fishing vessels operate in the region, they added.

Fishing is banned in Odisha for around seven months in a year in two rounds, and this has affected the local fishing community badly, said K Alleya, general secretary, OTFWU. The other ban is imposed from November 1 to May 31 in four coastal districts Ganjam, Puri, Kendrapara and Jagatsinghpur to protect the Olive Ridley turtles who come ashore to nest. 

Each beneficiary has to pay an annual sum of Rs 1,500 to be a part of the compensation scheme for the monsoon ban, while the rest of Rs 3,000 is equally shared between the state and central governments, said deputy director of fisheries (marine). 

The Odisha government also provides Rs 7,500 to all affected families as a one-time assistance for the ban to protect Olive Ridley turtles. The affected families get 25 kilograms of rice from the government every month as a livelihood support, he added 

‘The central and state aid are both very meagre in comparison to the present market price,” said Alleya. ‘We urged the government to increase the amount from Rs 4,500 to Rs 15,000 and to exempt the share of the beneficiaries,” he added.

Other governments like Andhra Pradesh have increased the state compensation to Rs 10,000 per affected family for the monsoon ban, he said. 

Most of the active fishermen in Odisha did not get the benefits under the scheme in the previous years because they were unable to pay the marching share, Alleya alleged. 

The ban extends to the Indian Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) beyond territorial waters on the East Coast (including Andaman & Nicobar Islands) and the West Coast (including Lakshadweep Islands). It will come into effect in the West Coast from June 1, 2022, said the department official.

During the ban period, all kinds of trawlers and mechanised boats longer than 8.5 metres are prohibited from entering the sea for fishing activities, said Basant Kumar Das, deputy director of fisheries (marine), Odisha government. The traditional non-motorised fishing boats, less than 8.5m in length, however, will be exempted from this uniform ban imposed in the Indian EEZ beyond territorial waters, he said

The union also urged the government to include women under the scheme, as several of them are involved in different fishing activities like transporting and selling. Their earnings have also taken a hit because of the ban, added Alleya.

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