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Kerala - Thiruvananthapuram Printer Friendly Page   Send this Article to a Friend

A fishing village clings to hope

Special Correspondent

Thiruvananthapuram: It is a long wait for the family of Mani (Varghese), 53, and his son Satheesh, 18, hailing from the coastal village of Mariyanadu. The duo had set out to sea from the Colachel harbour in Tamil Nadu, along with five others from Eraviputhenthurai in Kanyakumari district, on May 31.

The deep sea fishing boat named Mojanam registered with the Department of Fisheries, Tamil Nadu (Reg.No. TN/15/MFB/075) failed to return as scheduled on June 8. For residents of Mariyanad area and Thoothoor region of Kanyakumari, anxiety over the fate of the fishermen mounts with each day.

“We are keeping our fingers crossed, waiting for their safe return,” says Vijayan, Secretary, Eraviputhenthurai Unit of the Association of Deep Sea Going Artisanal Fishermen. The Tamil Nadu natives aboard the missing boat include Biju, 36, Binu, 26, Shaji, 29, Cleetus, 48 and Essak, 52. Mr. Vijayan said the case of the missing fishermen was conveyed to the Assistant Director of Fisheries, Kanyakumari District, Director of Fisheries, Government of Tamil Nadu and the Coast Guard stations at Mandapam and Vizhinjam.

Search operation

Christudas Mariyanadu, Thiruvananthapuram District Congress Committee member, said a massive search operation involving helicopters and Coast Guard ships was launched from Tamil Nadu to trace the missing boat. “Seven fishing boats have also been pressed into service,” he said.

According to Vincent Jain, Executive (HRD), South Indian Federation of Fishermen Societies (SIFFS), warnings about rough sea are usually conveyed to the Association of Deep Sea Going Artisanal Fishermen and disseminated over phone to the churches in the coastal belt from where it is relayed to the fishermen preparing to set out to sea. “We use wireless sets to warn those who have already ventured out to sea but that rarely works beyond 25 nautical miles from the coast. In this case, the boat was well out of range by the time the warning was issued.”

Deep sea fishing boats operating from Colachel often spend up to 25 days at sea and venture till the Gujarat coast in search of fertile fishing grounds. They berth at Goa or Gujarat to market their catch, mostly tuna or shark. More than 500 deep sea fishing boats are registered with the Tamil Nadu government.

The boats measuring 65 ft in length are propelled by powerful inboard engines capable of enduring long voyages. Equipped with passive refrigeration consisting of ice in insulated containers, they can carry more than five tonnes of fish on board.

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