news Monday, January 05, 2015 - 05:30
Haritha John | The News Minute | October 10, 2014 | 12:32 pm IST  Chinese fishing nets, a part of Kerala for the last 500 years and one of the main tourist attractions in the state, are on the verge of extinction in the Kochi coastline. Chinese fishing nets are fishing nets that are operated and installed from the shore. Huge maintenance costs and poor catch of fishes is forcing fishermen to look for alternative means of livelihood. “The maintenance is very costly, though we lift the net twenty times a day, the fish availability is very less, don’t even get the maintenance cost” says Rajan, a China net worker who hails from Fort Cochin. It needs 4 to 5 workers to operate the net, and fishes caught are only sufficient enough to be shared among themselves. This is forcing fishermen to opt other options of livelihood. “That is my home, if you want I can sell it to you”, says Sivan, a 48-year-old China net fisherman. pointing to an island viewed from the Pachalam – Vallarpadam road. Since the islands and fishermen's huts are being converted into backwater resorts in Cochin, he too dreams of a better life outside his island. ( Image Source: Wikipedia ) Though the plight of the Chinese fishing net workers in Cochin, who often hail from poor financial backgrounds, have been highlighted by the media, not much has been done about it by authorities. But last July Chinese fishing nets were back in the spotlight, after the Chinese government submitted a proposal of renovating them. The only role of Cochin Corporation was to grant the permission. They even expressed to complete the refurbishment before the Chinese President’s visit to India. However, following the proposal, there has been no substantial changes in the present conditions of China nets. Was it the inefficiency of the Chinese government or the Kerala government? According to Raghavan, banks and other government financial groups unwilling to help the Chinese fishing net operators. The result is that, fishermen are forced to approach moneylenders for loans to repair their nets and end up with huge debts along with hefty interests. ( Image Source: Kerala Tourism )  The numbers of these nets are fast dwindling, with 5 nets rendered nonfunctional last year. There is so much talk about Chinese fishing nets and their need for protection, but there are hardly any initiations. A community proposal can be an alternative hope. It's high time to move beyond discussions and act. These nets need to be preserved not only because these are our historical heritage but also because it is a source of income through tourism.

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