In a novel initiative that can protect fisheries and biodiversity during the marine breeding season, the state government enforced an annual ban for 61 days in the summer, which will come into effect from April 15. The ban will restrict fishing activities by mechanised and motorised vessels fitted with inboard or outboard engines, excluding non-motorised crafts, as per the AP Marine Fishing Regulation Act, 1994.
Speaking to Hello Vizag, President of the Dolphin Boat Operators’ Welfare Association, Ch Sathyanarayana said there are over 2,000 mechanised boats in Andhra Pradesh. In Vizag, more than 29,000 people are dependent on fishing for their livelihood. Even before the start of the ban, the majority of mechanised fishing boats were anchored at harbours following losses due to low catch of popular fish, he added. Stating further, Mr. Sathyanarayana said even after the state government is providing Rs. 10,000 as financial support to the fishermen to manage during the banned period, the fishermen fraternity will face utmost hardships and find difficult for the next two months.
Explaining the registering process for financial assistance, Deputy Director of Fisheries, P Lakshmana Rao, told Hello Vizag, that according to the government records, only 20,000 fishermen have been registered to receive the government grant during the ban. From April 19, the exercise of enumeration will begin and the list of all the beneficiaries will be completed by April 25. Subsequently, on submission of the details such as Aadhaar card, ration card, bank account and boat owner’s certificate, the amount will be directly deposited to their bank accounts after verification,”
Also, before coming out with the final list, objections for the enumeration will be accepted for three days. The final prepared list will be uploaded in an App with a view to maintaining transparency and accountability, adds the Deputy Director of Fisheries. In Visakhapatnam there are as many as 739 upgraded vessels and 3,400 engine boats will be anchored at the harbor from April 15 at midnight. Many representatives of the fishermen association spoke to Hello Vizag said that with the ban starting from today’s midnight, their lives will be further worsened as they have already been hit by the pandemic-induced loss and rise in fuel prices.
In the meantime, the fishing harbour saw a sudden surge in activity after the fishing community came to know about the Centre’s decision on Monday evening. Executive Director of A.P. Fisherfolk Foundation, Arjili Dasu said “the decision has given hope to boat owners that they will get a decent income. Also, due to pandemic, the fishermen had stopped fishing a month before the ban that comes into effect from today.