US company to engage in deep sea fishing on Kerala coast; fish wealth likely to be exploited
Thoppumpadi (Ernakulam): A controversy erupted in the fisheries sector after allegations that a US company joined hands with the state government and plotted in monopolising the deep sea fish wealth here. The US company EMCC International invested on BOOT (Build, Own, Operate, Transfer) method.
The company will have the right to execute the project for upto 20-25 years. Then the trawlers and its ownership will be handed over to the government. As per the contract, 400 hi-tech trawlers will be manufactured in Kerala. The contract was signed with Kerala Shipping and Inland Navigation Corporation (KSINC). The company spent Rs 2950 crore for the project.
The government had decided that no license should be issued for any fishing vessel for 10 years. This was decided after discussing with fisherfolk. Meanwhile, the government granted permission for a foreign company to manufacture 400 trawlers. According to the fisheries department’s statistics, there are three times more vessels than required.
Most of the fishing centres in the world are facing scarcity of fish due to severe exploitation. The two major areas where fish wealth exist are the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal. This is why foreign companies are targeting Kerala.
Several studies indicate that Kerala coast has a huge wealth of fish suitable for export. However, there are no sufficient technical facilities for catching fish. The company’s trawlers are likely to come to the coastal region also and this will cause a challenge to the traditional fishermen.
It is said that the fishermen in Kerala will be employed in the trawlers. In Kerala’s fisheries industry, the fishermen are made the owner and the caught fish is shared between the owner and employees. The fisherfolk do not want to end this system. Also there are very few fishermen who can go for deep sea fishing.
Strikes were held in protest over the central government granting permission to foreign ships. The government took a stand in favour of the strikes and then signed a contract with the foreign company. Allegations arose that the government refused to hold discussion with the fishermen regarding the project.