Covid-19: Ban on fishing, fisherfolk unemployed

The President has also issued a uniform ban on fishing in the East Coast and West Coast for 61 days beginning at different durations for sea safety reasons

Fishing Ban

The Karnataka government advised fishermen of the coastal district of Karnataka to not venture into the sea until the Covid-19 situation improves. In a bid to prevent people gathering at Dhakkes (fish landing points), the Mangaluru Trawl Boat Owners Association President Nithin Kumar told The Hindu that to ensure that gatherings don’t take place, diesel would not be made available to mechanized vessels there.

The Tamil Nadu government too banned imposed a ban on trawlers and fishing boats till March 31. Director of fisheries, KS Sameeran told The Times of India that the boats at sea would be allowed to return but their catch would not be auctioned off as done usually.

This has led to a loss of income for many small-time fishermen said South Indian Fishermen Welfare Association President, K Bharathi. He also mentioned that there was no restriction placed on the number of people visiting fish markets in North Chennai.

In Odisha too, 5,000 fishermen’s lives now hang in the balance as the 21-day lockdown has come into place. Not only have the fishermen been grappling with the problem of dwindling prices, one reason being the ban on public gatherings like marriages, but they also have no option but to sell their catch at low prices due to not having any cold storage options.

The Marine Products Exports Development Authorities told the Hindu Business Line that exports, which were supposed to $7 billion for the country this year, were hit due to the virus scare. The halt of international flights too has added to woes of the industry.

Alex K Ninan, President of Seafood Exporters Association of India – Kerala region, said, “Many of the export markets such as Japan and the US are buying selectively. The European market is totally cut off, while there is only negligible procurement from the Chinese market.”

In such a crisis, with traditional fishermen risking to lose their livelihoods till the time the virus is not contained, it is imperative that the government provide them with financial and other assistance to ensure that their daily lives which depend on fishing, don’t take a hit.

Fishing ban due to security reasons

On March 20, the President of India imposed a uniform ban on fishing by all fishing vessels in the Indian Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) beyond territorial waters on the East Coast, including the Andaman and Nicobar Island for 61 days beginning April 15 to June 14 and West Coast including the Lakshadweep Islands for 61 days, beginning June 1 to July 31 for conservation and effective management of fishery resources and also for sea safety reasons.

It exempted traditional non-motorized units from this ban.

The Bangalore Mirror had reported that China had begun deploying underwater drones apart from hydrographic survey and oceanic research ships in the Indian Ocean Region. This concerned the Indian authorities as such surveys aren’t just taken for deep-sea mining and other commercial activities, but are also critical for submarine and anti-submarine warfare operations.



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