State promises free rations to jobless workers during seasonal ban
MECHANIZED boats stopped trawling the coastal waters of Kerala from June 15 following an annual ban imposed by the state till July 31 to protect fish stocks that spawn during this period. For once, the 4,000-odd trawler owners and workers have not opposed the ban imposed every year since 1988. Earlier they used to violate the ban leading to frequent fights between them and fishermen in small boats who are allowed to fish during the ban. “The reason the workers associations did not oppose the ban could be the annual haul of fish increasing over the years, especially between July and September, immediately after the ban ends,” said Charles George, president of Kerala Matsyatozhilazhi Aikyavedi, a fish workers’ forum. As per data published by Marine Products Exports Develop - ment Agency, the total catch in 2007- 2008 was 670,000 tonnes. This was 52,000 tonnes more than the previous year. Thirty-seven per cent of the annual output is in the three months after the ban is lifted, the data revealed. The fisher associations are now demanding work and rations for the fishermen and workers to tide over the ban season. “The government has promised free rations to affected workers but it will be a month before the supplies arrive,” said V Vijayan who works on a trawler. He said he hopes to make some money by painting and repairing his owners’ boat docked in Kollam. The state cabinet has allocated Rs 50 lakh for free rations to the fisher families. They are also exempted from loan repayments till November.
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