Owners and workers of mechanised boats with engines below 150 horse power staged a protest on Monday seeking withdrawal of permission for boats up to 240 HP to operate within 20 nautical miles.
Around 250 boats in Chennai, Tiruvallur and Kancheepuram districts have been on strike for over two weeks now.
Arasu of the Chennai Chengai Singaravelar Visai Padagu Meenavar Sangam said that these boats did bottom trawling beyond 5 nautical miles and that if boats with above 200 HP engines were allowed, they would push boats with smaller engines closer to the coast. â€śThose with higher engine capacity would pull everything they can from the bottom. Already, there is a reduction in fish catch. We are also concerned about the country craft that number around 30,000 in these areas,â€ť he said.
The stand-off has been on for over a year now, with similar protests organised at Kasimedu against granting permissions for mechanised craft up to 24 metre length and engines of 240 HP. â€śSuch boats could be permitted to go deep sea fishing and not allowed to fish near the coast,â€ť Mr. Arasu said.
The Chennai Visai Padagu Meenavar Nala Sangam, the association of owners of boats with larger horse power, said that they only ventured into the deep sea for fishing. K. Kapilan, president of the sangam, said that there was an agreement between the two associations that the bigger boats will not fish near the coast.
However, the smaller mechanised boat association office-bearers said that the agreement had been flouted many times.