1200 Trawlers, 850 boats, 700 canoes…NOT A SINGLE ONE OF THEM SEA-WORTHY

27 Мар 2014 | Author: | No comments yet »
Quicksilver 700 Weekend boat

1200 trawlers, 850 boats, 700 canoes…NOT A SINGLE ONE OF THEM SEA-WORTHY


Each one of our fishermen at sea is at risk, with not a single sea worthiness certificate issued to any vessel

Pic Credit: Sagun Gawade

As the sun dips and night falls trawlers packed with more than 18 to 20 crew members slowly make its way into the choppy waters in the night hoping to reap another day’s rich harvest.

Carrying a crew beyond the specified number is the first irregularity committed by these trawlers. Secondly, the trawler has never been tested for its sea worthiness. But the trawler owner and the crew members are not bothered; as the fisheries department which is supposed to keep a watch on them is equally unconcerned.

The fisheries department issues permissions to over 2,800 fishing vessels that include trawlers, motorized boats and canoes. Besides it issues licenses to 100 additional canoes every year. None are checked for safety or for its sea worthiness.

And why not? Director Fisheries Sharmila Monteiro has an explanation which only she thinks is plausible. “We do not have a technical engineer to check the boats for its sea worthiness. Thus I must admit that we do not inspect any of the vessels or issue any annual sea worthiness certificate to them. Only when there is a change of ownership the vessel is checked and that too only for the dimensions of the vessel,”

So there you have it. 1200 trawlers (of which 900 are functional), 850 motorized boats, 700 canoes go out to sea and not even one is certified to be on sea.

Presently, the fisheries department is checking into the verification of the crew members and issuing ID cards to them. Later the department will be busy with licensing of the nets, Monteiro added.

Even as incidents of drowning and boats getting stuck at high seas and complaints of pollution keep increasing, the fisheries department has no plans in place to check the vessels for sea worthiness.

“Many times trawlers are over staffed with no proper life jackets and other equipment and illegally loaded with unlicensed nets. Motorized canoes go beyond two nautical miles but no one cares,” said Valentino Gracias, a fisheries expert from Verna-Nagoa.

The Captain of Ports is ready to provide its expertise but other government departments either don’t care or have no time.

“We are on the committee of issues relating to boats and marine transport, coastal police and many other departments. We are ready to provide our expertise to the fisheries department since we always inspect our barges and other vessels. But the onus lies with them to invite us,” said James Braganza, Captain of Ports.

CoP and Fisheries are different departments and cannot work together, as CoP is concerned with other boats and vessels, Monteiro countered.

Many owners carryout maintenance of their vessels for their own good, even as they are aware that the fisheries department does not check vessels for safety.

We dock our boats twice a year at our own facility or at Old Goa. We clean the sea growth at the hull, the bottom of the vessel. We obviously want good profits and care for our boats but the fisheries department has taken hardly any steps to check the vessels over the years, Raymond D’Sa, a trawler and barge owner told The Goan.

Trawler owner and former minister Jose Phillip D’Souza stated that the fisheries department failed to provide any assistance. It does not look into the illegalities of any kind by motorized boats or other trawlers, he added.

“We have to fill up certain posts and maybe we’ll begin checking boats for seaworthiness from this year onwards since we have a corpus fund for fisheries,” the fisheries director said.

While the government provides huge subsidies on diesel for the fishing vessels, there is hardly any attention paid to the safety aspect of these vessels.

Quicksilver 700 Weekend boat

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