The ‘deep sea fishing project’, launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi here on July 27 to end bottom trawling in the Palk Bay, has evoked good response with more than 300 fishermen evincing interest in the venture.
The ambitious project, implemented jointly by the Central and State governments with 70% subsidy for constructing a vessel at the cost of Rs. 80 lakh, has gained momentum with 337 fishermen applying and the fisheries department issuing work orders for 62 of them, official sources here said.
The governments have chalked out the project to prevent fishermen from trespassing into Sri Lankan waters while fishing in the Palk Bay and getting arrested by the Sri Lankan navy. They propose to diversify 2,000 trawlers from Palk Bay into deep sea Tuna long liner-cum-Gill netter boats in aphased manner over a period of three years.
Fishermen, facing problems in the hands of the Lankan navy for several years, have responded well to the project, and the department is hopeful of weaning away 500 trawlers to deep sea during 2017-18, the sources said. Priority is being given to fishermen whose boats were impounded by the Lankan navy.
Under the scheme, the Centre provides 50% (Rs. 40 lakh) subsidy and the State government, 20% (Rs. 16 lakh). The beneficiaries will be assisted in raising 20% (Rs. 16 lakh) institutional finance after their contribution of 10% (Rs. 8 lakh).
The Pandyan Grama Bank (PGB) has come forward to provide financial support for the fishermen under its ‘Meenavar Thozhan’ scheme. The fisheries department is now focussing on capacity building and has floated global tenders to bring in the best boat builders.
When the vessels are constructed, the fishermen will be trained in deep sea fishing, the sources said adding that a batch of fishermen will be sent to the Central Institute of Fisheries Nautical and Engineering Training for 15 days practical and theoretical training.
Besides, a group of 50 fishermen will attend the workshop on “Deep sea fishing in Tamil Nadu – challenges and opportunities” conducted by the Tamil Nadu Fisheries University, Nagapattinam, on September 8. G.S. Sameeran, Additional director, fisheries, John Chembian, senior scientist, Fishery Survey of India, and Dilanti Koranlagama from University of Ruhana, Sri Lanka, will address the workshop.