Govt. against foreign trawlers: CM

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Saturday said the government was staunchly opposed to allowing foreign or domestic fishing fleet owners or corporates to exploit the State’s marine wealth.

At the same, the State required to replace its ageing fishing fleet with modern craft. The rider to the policy was the government would only allow traditional fishers to operate or own the new boats. Only traditional fishers would receive boat permits.

In 2017, the State government had stood shoulder-to-shoulder with fishers to persuade the Centre to withdraw the fishing permits granted to foreign and domestic corporates to trawl the deep sea.

Mr. Vijayan said Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala had intrigued with some factors in the administration to stoke disaffection in the fishing community with the Left Democratic Front (LDF) government.

He had spread disinformation that the political executive had allowed a U.S. mega fishing fleet company to harvest the deep seas. Mr. Chennithala had relied on some proposals received by the Industries Department in February to build deep-sea trawlers to lay down the smokescreen of lies, the Chief Minister said.

Mr. Chennithala had portrayed a potential foreign boat builder’s exploratory talks with the government as an agreement to permit deep-sea trawling.

The Congress had lost ground to the LDF in coastal constituencies in the local body polls. Mr. Chennithala had attempted to retrieve the lost political territory by trying to sow scepticism among fishers about the government’s intentions.

Working-class interest informed the LDF government’s policies. Fishers were among the most economically and socially disadvantaged sections in society.

The Chief Minister said the question remained how the proposals reached the Opposition leader. “There is some ambiguousness. An official who had worked with Mr. Chennithala when he was Home Minister is now in the Industries Department. I am not indulging in any speculation. There will be more clarity in the matter soon,” he said.

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