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Fishermen seek alternative market to avoid virus effect

With the annual fishing ban period set to get over in a few days, fishermen have urged the state government to set up alternative market space for selling their catch on the lines of the Koyambedu vegetable market.

Fishermen seek alternative market to avoid virus effect
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File photo of Kasimedu fish market

Chennai

Several fishermen in Kasimedu and a few other hamlets said they don’t fish markets to emerge as another cluster like Koyambedu, where the crowd completely ignore social distancing, one of the causes for the faster spread of virus.

“To avoid such a situation, officials should arrange alternative space for fish markets to ensure safety for sellers, workers and the public who come to buy our catch. When it is a market there will be crowd, but safety measures like social distancing can be achieved only with cooperation of all – fishermen, official and customers,” said K Bharathi, President, South Indian Fishermen Welfare Association.

Following the announcement of lockdown owing to COVID-19 crisis, the 61-day annual fishing ban along the Bay of Bengal coast was advanced in the state. The ban is set to conclude around May 25.

Though fishermen appealed to the state government for a special incentive package as they will be badly hit because of the ban and lockdown, there was no positive response.

Even the traditional fish markets functioning in Kasimedu were closed citing overcrowding and the fishermen using fibre boats were being forced to sell their catch to traders alone at a very low price.

“During the ban period only the fibre boats are allowed and even the fish they catch are sold only to traders. In this crisis time, traders are purchasing fish at a very low price. The same scenario may continue after the ban period ends, if the government does not arrange alternative space for fish markets”, said Bharathi.

Another fishermen representative, Kabadi B Maran, Founder, Tamil Nadu Fishermen Progressive Union, said that the mechanised boats were lying idle for more than 45 days and fishermen were not even allowed to even inspect or overhaul the boats. Some of the boats and nets were damaged and government should provide subsidised loans up to Rs 5 lakh to mechanized boat owners to repair their crafts. Similarly, the government should also arrange export facilities for fishermen by setting fish export promotion centres between Ramanathapuram and Thanjavur, said Maran.

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