Owners of abandoned trawlers a worried lot

Owners of abandoned trawlers a worried lot Threat of capsizal and theft of spare parts haunting them. For over two years, the removal of the trawlers for scrapping as sought by the owners has not yielded tangible results due to procedural wrangles. Inordinate delay in removal of sunken boats from the fishing harbour here and the damage dealt by cyclone Hudhud have added salt to the wounds of owners of abandoned trawlers with the threat of capsizal looming large. They are also facing the threat of theft of spare parts even as the abandoned/unused trawlers numbering 20 continue to occupy one-third of space at the fishing harbour. Incidentally, both Visakhapatnam Mechanised Boat Operators’ Association and Dolphin Boat Operators’ Welfare Association attribute congestion to the abandoned steel hull trawlers with overall length of 20 to 25 metres as the reason for collision among the mechanised boats leading to submergence of 65 boats and damage to nearly 400 boats on October 12. No tangible result For over two years, the removal of the trawlers for scrapping as sought by the owners has not yielded tangible results due to procedural wrangles. The fishing harbour is under the custody of Visakhapatnmam port which insists on obtaining ‘no-objection certificate’ from the AP Pollution Control Board. “APPCB is not giving permission to scrap the trawlers stating that it may cause pollution. There is no other place on the entire East Coast where such vessels can be scrapped. These vessels cannot be taken to Port of Alang in Gujarat where ship-breaking is permitted,” pointed out Brig. S.K. Aggarwal, president of Association of Fishing Professionals. “One of my trawlers has already sunk and another is positioned dangerously. Owing to cracks developed on another vessel, the threat of it getting sunk is haunting me,” he has told The Hindu. During 80s and early 90s there were as many as 150 such deep sea trawlers operating on the East Coast. Their numbers came down slowly as fishing turned unviable due to high operational cost and dwindling catch.