Fishermen in Kasimedu are an unhappy lot. Their haul of fish is decreasing by the day, thanks to motorboats with banned Chinamade 840cc engines. They have now intensified their protest against the illegal boats, saying that their diesel-run low-power boats are unable to keep up with them.
The Times of India reported that around 200 of these illegal boats are in use. They travel much longer distances at high speeds, fishermen with more traditional boats say, allowing them to harvest the choicest fish from large shoals that ride the currents off the shoreline.
South Indian Fishermen Welfare Association president K Bharathi said crews with the high-speed boats also use gill nets, resulting in highly effective but indiscriminate fishing that results in a large amount of non-commercial by-catch. These methods are putting traditional fishermen from Kasimedu out of business, he said to TOI.
“The use of the boats is making it difficult for other fishermen whose catch is getting smaller by the day. There has to be a uniform policy regarding the use of high-speed engines,” Bharathi said.
“As it is, fish populations have depleted off the north Tamil Nadu coast, forcing fishermen to travel up to waters off Andhra Pradesh where the catch is better. Fishermen in Andhra Pradesh have started to oppose the entry of fishermen from Tamil Nadu because of the boats with illegal, highpower engines,” he further added.
The use of the illegal boats is destroying the business of the traditional fishermen from Kasimedu. They have boats that are 15m long or smaller, compared to the 20m long Chinese-engine boats. They recently held a meeting to discuss how to organise their opposition to high-speed vessels with banned China-made motors.
Fishermen claim that small and medium boats return with a catch of about 150 to 200 baskets of fish but the high-speed boats regularly net 1,500 baskets at one go. They are now demanding a crackdown on unregistered boats.