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Info ordeal for coast boatmen

Paradip, June 6: Traditional fishermen on the Dhamara-Paradip coast are upset over the government’s instructions asking them to bear the cost of displaying vital information, such as registration number, on their vessels to meet standard coastal security norms, as they feel this would be a huge financial burden on them.

The Odisha marine fisheries department has been directed to get all boats registered and have vital data displayed on them within the next six months.

“As part of the coastal security plan, the fishermen will have to follow a set of strict guidelines. To thwart terror strikes, it is mandatory for them to display the licence number of the fishing vessel while out at sea. Besides, other information too has to be displayed on the fishing vessel,” said nodal officer of the coastal security wing of the Odisha police Shantanu Kumar Das.

Some fishermen said the exercise might turn out to be futile if the poor and ignorant fishermen were asked to write the information on their own on the boats. Without guidelines on how this writing is to be displayed, it might also be difficult to read the registration number and other details from a distance.

“The marine fishermen have been directed to display the registration number, date of registration and place of registration in bold letters on their boats,” said Rabi Narayan Pattnaik, assistant director of the Odisha marine fisheries department.

The remodelling includes, among other things, writing of data, registration number and colour coding of the fishing vessels. As per instructions of the Odisha marine fisheries department, the vessel owners will have to bear the cost of remodelling themselves.

However, the fishermen earn a measly sum from traditional sea fishing methods. So, they are in no position to bear the burden of the additional cost. So, they have urged the state marine fisheries department to bear the cost for writing the information on their fishing boats and vessels.

“The fishing ban for seven months has already taken a heavy toll on their livelihood. The fish catch has also diminished. So, this additional infrastructure cost would burden them further financially,” said Tushar Kanti Sardar, chief of local traditional marine fishermen’s association.

“However, some of the fishermen have obeyed the directives and displayed data entries on their boats, as it would help in checking illegal infiltration,” he added.

“The Odisha government would have to take up the job. It would lead to a uniform type of information, which would serve the purpose in identifying the boats of local origin. Besides, it would also ease the fiscal burden on the hard-pressed sea fishermen,” he said.