Thursday 08 Dec 2022

Ban ends, but trawlers face manpower crunch for Ops

THE GOAN NETWORK | JULY 31, 2022, 11:56 PM IST


The seasonal two-month ban may have ended but fishing operations of mechanised trawlers may not kick off full throttle on Monday as the labour force, mostly migrant, has still not returned in numbers.

Only a handful of boats are ready to venture out into the sea on Monday, officials of the fishermen's cooperative manning the jetty at Malim have said.

"Four to five of the smaller boats will sail on Monday from Malim. The labourers have not yet come," said Sitaram Parab, who is one of the directors of the Mandovi Fishermen's Marketing Co-operative Society, which manages the Malim jetty.

Parab said boats at Malim also face navigational issues due to the sand bar formations off Miramar and the Aguada Bay and have to carefully set sail during high tide.

He said, only a few boats are prepared and will set sail to begin operations on Monday, the first day after the long two-month ban, to net and cash-in on the seasonal 'solar' shrimp. 

At Cutbona jetty, many a fishing vessel was getting ready to start the season, though many boat owners pointed out the migrant manpower is yet to hit the jetties.

Totally dependent on the workers hailing from the eastern coast of Odisha, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh, boat owners said delay in the arrival of the workforce could delay the start of the new season. Boat owners say more than 50 per cent of the migrant workers have reported at the fishing jetties. 

Sources said compared to vessels for fishing, the purse seine boats required huge manpower -- 30-35 workers per vessel. ‘Unless, all the required manpower hits the jetties, it will not be possible for all the big vessels to venture out”, informed a boat owner.

He, however, said that small fishing boats, which are manned by a couple of workers, are expected to sail on Monday, marking the beginning of the new fishing season.

Boat owners also have another hurdle to cross. Their boats have to be inspected by fisheries officials and other agencies such as the Goa Coastal Police and Coast Guard mandated by a recent directive of the Bombay High Court.

Fishing officials, however, were not seen at the Cutbona fishing jetty on Sunday, raising questions whether the officials will start checking the vessels on Day-1 of the fishing season on Monday.

Meanwhile, boat owner and former Cutbona Boat Owners Union President Savio D’Silva informed that no fisheries official was seen at the jetty on Sunday. He said since the fishing ban ends at midnight, the vessels will leave Cutbona past midnight, wondering when the fisheries officials will check the boats before allowing them into the sea. 

“The Cutbona fishing is being managed by the Fisheries department. They have to execute the High Court directions. We boat owners have no problem with the High Court directions since we do not use LED lights for fishing or resort to bull trawling”, he said.

He added: “Since the vessels will venture out for fishing at midnight, it is for the Fisheries officials to take a call when to check the vessels”.

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