To provide livelihood and employment to fishermen and prevent them from migrating to other states in search of work, the Andhra Pradesh government has launched 25 aqua hubs and four fishing harbours to encourage fishing activity. Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy has said that despite having the second-longest coastline of 974 km, fishermen migrate to other states due to lack of facilities and in some instances, they were caught in international waters and were jailed in other countries.
The Chief Minister laid the foundation stones virtually for the fishing harbours and aqua hubs and construction work will begin from December 15 after the bidding process is complete.
The four harbours are to be constructed at an estimated cost of Rs 1,510 crores at Juvvaladinne in Nellore district, Uppada in East Godavari, Nizampatnam in Guntur, and Machilipatnam in Krishna district. The 25 aqua hubs, one in each Parliamentary constituency area, will encourage aquaculture, fresh water fish farming, aqua product bazaars, and storage and marketing facilities. Four other fishing harbours are proposed to be developed at a later stage and they will cater to over 7 lakh fishermen of the state.
Fisheries Minister S Appalaraju said that the enhanced facilities will boost marine products catch by over 3 lakh tonnes and provide direct and indirect employment to 50,000 to 80,000 people. The state will invest about Rs 3,500 crores to develop the aqua hubs and the additional four harbours.
In 2019-20, as fishermen lost their livelihoods due to the lockdown and Covid-19 protocols and ban on fishing during monsoon, the state government launched a scheme to provide Rs 4,000 as compensation to them but increased the amount to Rs 10,000 per fishermen which was paid directly to their accounts. About 1.02 lakh fishermen benefitted from the scheme. The government had increased the fuel subsidy for fishing boats from Rs 6 to Rs 9 per litre which can be redeemed instantly at 87 recognised petrol bunks and also provided power at Rs 1.50 per unit and the total subsidy of Rs 720 Crore is borne by the government. In case of accidental death, the State has enhanced the ex gratia from Rs 5 lakh to Rs 10 lakh to support the bereaved family.
Fisheries Department Special Chief Secretary Poonam Malkondaiah said the state government has recruited 794 people as fisheries assistants in Village Secretariats to assist fishermen and aqua farmers. The AP Fish feed Act and Aquaculture Development Authority have been formed to have quality aqua products that are free of fertilizers and chemicals. For the first time, the State has set up 35 aqua labs with a cost of Rs 50 crores to check the quality of aqua products. Earlier, for any testing, aqua farmers from Krishna district used to go all the way to Kakinada due to lack of lab facilities. The AP Fisheries University would be set up in the West Godavari district to give expert training in aquaculture. The work would begin in a couple of months.
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