Fishing hartal on State’s coastline on Feb. 27

March planned to Mercykutty’s house demanding cancellation of ‘pact’ with U.S. firm

A fishing hartal will be observed on Kerala’s coastline on February 27 under the banner of the newly formed Matsya Mekhala Samrakshana Samiti, demanding cancellation of the ‘‘Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)’’ between the Kerala Shipping and Inland Navigation Corporation (KSINC) and a U.S.-based company to build 400 trawlers to be deployed off the Indian coast for deep-sea fishing.

The decision on the hartal was taken here on Saturday evening following a meeting of fishers’ unions (barring those affiliated to the CPI(M), CPI, and the BJP), boat owners’ associations, representatives of traditional fishermen, and people’s representatives led by Hibi Eden and T.N. Pratapan, MPs.

KSINC office siege

Prior to the hartal, fishers will lay siege to the KSINC head office here and take out a march to the residence of Minister for Fisheries J. Mercykutty Amma in Kollam on February 22.

It will be followed by a regional convention of traditional fishers in Kochi and Kozhikode at 4 p.m. on February 25.

“It is imperative that the State government cancel the MoU inked with the US firm to roll out 400 trawlers, since it will lead to massive depletion of marine resources, affecting the livelihood of lakhs of people. It was agreed on Saturday to adopt an apolitical approach in opposing the government’s plans that will derail the State’s fisheries sector,” Mr. Pratapan said.

Fisheries stakeholders, including scientists and researchers, had recently demanded cancellation of the MoU, saying that the State government had not done proper homework on the issue.

Meanwhile, Joseph Xavier Kalappurakkal was elected as chairman of the Matsya Mekhala Samrakshana Samiti and K.K. Radhakarishnan and Ummer Ootummal as its working chairmen. Charles George will be the convener, while the organisation will have three MPs — N.K. Premachandran, T.N. Pratapan, and Hibi Eden — as well as V. Dinakaran, former MLA, and Father Eugine Pereira as patrons.

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