Malpe Trawl Boat Fishermen Association has urged the government to allow bull trawl fishing for at least three months, as it is an old method of fishing which is being practised for decades.
Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Malpe Trawl Boat Fishermen Association President Ganesh Suvarna said bull trawling or pair trawling was in practice along the coastal districts of Karnataka during the months of September to November. The indiscriminate ban on bull trawling by the government two years ago has led to fury among the fishermen in Malpe who use small sized vessels to catch fishes. They have taken the decision to challenge the government order that bans bull trawl fishing.
He said there are 500 small boats that engage in bull trawl method of fishing just for three months from September to November, which has offered the source of livelihood for 4,000 fishermen of Malpe area.
He asserted that bull trawling is unavoidable for survival because soon after the rainy season, the water turns cool in the bottom of the sea, leading to fishes gathering far above. At such point, no other method will be successful in catching fishes other than bull trawling.
He added that the engines used are below 140 horsepower and they engage in fishing within 12 nautical miles from the seashore. The government should have discussed with the fishermen leaders before coming to a conclusion. The decision to ban bull trawl fishing is a unilateral decision taken by the government.
Secretary Prathap Salian said that there are 1,200 deep sea trawl boats. These boats catch fish illegally as they fix 500 hp engines though the permissible limit is 350 hp, he alleged.
He said that the government should allow them to get into the bull trawl fishing immediately after the festival.
He alleged that Fisheries Department officials have been targeting only the fishermen who use small sized vessels to catch fish. The small trawl fishing has stopped since the beginning of September and the fishermen families are struggling and are unable to pay the loan amount.
Deputy Director, Fisheries Department, Udupi district has said that the issue should be decided at the cabinet-level and the demand of the fishermen has been forwarded to the government.
The fishermen also threatened to hold a protest if the government fails to meet their demand.