Bid to promote sustainable fishery with resources in coastal waters fast depleting. Around hundred fishers selected from various marine districts across the State will be soon trained in deep-sea fishing techniques such as gillnetting and longlining. While the orientation for the first batch of 30 fishers will begin at Mangaluru next week, other training sessions will be held at Central government institutes and deep-sea vessels.

“Only limited number of boats from Kerala venture beyond 50 nautical miles and engage in deep-sea fishing. Marine resources in coastal waters are fast depleting and this is an attempt to promote sustainable fishery management,” says an official. Usually, coastal waters up to 30 nautical miles see maximum fishing activity and Kerala’s fleet size is far beyond what is ideal. “According to studies, most of our fishery wealth lies in deep sea and it is time we switch to scientific and sustainable methods,” he adds.

Deep-sea fishing is considered to be a risky affair and most trawlers from Kerala employ fishers from Tamil Nadu for multi-day trips. “You will see that most crew members are from other States, especially Tamil Nadu, as they have a long legacy of deep-sea fishing. They can spend any number of days at sea while our fishers want to return within four to five days. If the training can equip them for the trip, it can change the scene,” he says.

The fishers were selected from various fishermen co-operative societies based on expertise and technical know-how. All the fishers are members of societies affiliated to Matsyafed, which will be in charge of marketing the catch. A total of ten groups have been selected and after training they will be provided deep-sea fishing vessels, each costing around ₹1.5 crore. Government subsidies and bank loan will cover the major portion of investment with minimal beneficiary contribution.

“A sum of ₹1 crore will be given as subsidy while ₹45 lakh will be provided as bank loan with 5% interest. The beneficiary contribution of each group will be ₹5 lakh,” says the official. The vessels will be mainly targeting under-exploited species such as yellowfin tuna and squid. Since the vessels can go beyond the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), their storage capacity will be high. “They can stay in deep sea for several days and the vessels will also have slurry ice units to preserve the catch,” adds the official.