Kerala’s fisheries sector facing issues due to shortage of workers

Though the Union Government issued an order on April 10 exempting the fisheries sector from lockdown guidelines, the fisheries sector in the state is unable to resume operations due to the non-availability of workers and restrictions imposed on transportation.
The government had exempted “Operations of the fishing (marine), aquaculture industry including feeding and maintenance, harvesting, processing, packaging, cold chain, sale and marketing, hatcheries, feed plants, commercial aquaria, movement of fish and shrimp products and workers for all these activities” from the lockdown advisory, subject to compliance to the restrictions like social distancing and proper hygiene practices.
However, the mechanised boats are unable to resume operations as most of the workers have returned to their native places as fishing activities were stopped.
“Most of the boat workers come from Colachel and Thoothukudi area in Tamil Nadu and these workers had returned to their native places before the lockdown was imposed due to scare of transmission. We can resume fishing activities only if the workers return. Besides, we need some proactive measures as the sector has plunged into crisis due to depletion of fish stocks and hostile attitude of the Fisheries Department,” said All Kerala Fishing Boat Operators Association president Joseph Xavier Kalappurackal.
The fish processing industries are also not able to resume activities due to lockdown restrictions. “As the mechanised boats are not able to resume operations, we are unable to source the fish products. Even if they bring fish, we cannot process shrimp as the peeling units are not functioning. For exporting the processed fish, we need to test the samples and obtain export certification. As all the offices are closed there is difficulty in getting the consignment tested,” said Seafood Exporters Association of India Kerala region president Alex K Ninan.
Traditional fishermen are willing to resume fishing activities but are concerned about selling the catch as transporting the fish to the markets is a big challenge.
Source: New Indian Express