India aims to increase exports with new tuna liners

Of late, many mechanized boats are being converted into tuna liners by the fishermen of Tharuvaikulam coast, to exploit a good export potential.

After the conversion of the boats, which is encouraged with government subsidies, fishermen are getting a good catch of tuna, a fish that commands a good price in the export market. The tuna liners employ a non-destructive and selective fishing gear. Eyeing a good export market, after getting subsidy, 60 boats had been converted into tuna liners at Tharuvaikulam alone, M. Paulraj, president, Mechanized Boat Owners’ Association, said here on Sunday.

More boats were waiting to be converted into tuna liners, he said. As the boats were equipped with hauling drums and device for hauling up nets, the machines have replaced six–hour labour on board. The environment-friendly machinery had facilitated conservation of fish stock, and other marine life, including endangered species, whereas in trawl fishing, the destructive gear would decimate the ecosystem on the seabed.

Besides, expenditure on diesel had been minimized as tuna fleets stayed in deep sea for a week to 10 days. Since the migratory oceanic fish such as tuna could be netted only 75 to 80 nautical miles off shallow waters, the converted liner could stay that far until a good haul of tuna was ensured, he added. A. Arulraj, treasurer, sought help to link exporters directly to market tuna fish.

Since the fishing potential of tuna had not been exploited in these waters, fishermen had been motivated to identify new fishing grounds to catch the high-value seafood through subsidies, Joint Director of Fisheries R. Amal Xavier told The Hindu.

“There are 139 tuna liners operating along the Tuticorin and Kanyakumari coast. There is a plan to increase the subsidy component to attract more number of fishermen to adopt this eco-friendly fishing method,” he said.

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