Finance fishing boats

Scarcity of subsidized kerosene adds to the misery of fishermen

“Rising fuel prices on the free market and shortage of sockets plunge the sector into crisis”

“Rising fuel prices on the free market and shortage of sockets plunge the sector into crisis”

The disruption of the subsidized kerosene supply has added to the misery of the fishing community, which is already facing a severe shortage of catch.

Jackson Pollayil of the Swathanthra Matsya Thozhilali Federation, an independent federation of fishworkers, said the kersone supply situation was “pathetic”. He said that although around 14,000 fishing boats had been verified as deserving of subsidized kerosene, the supply had not been steady so far. It was learned that a few boats in Ernakulam district had received the first supplies after the February check, he added.

Mr Pollayil said the supply of subsidized kerosene had risen from around 600 liters per month per boat in the 1980s to around 100 liters per month today. The scarcity of kerosene, the rising price of fuel on the free market and a drought-like situation for fish have plunged the sector into a deep crisis, he said, while stressing that a large quantity of fish needed for the Kerala market was currently imported from Karnataka, Goa and Gujarat.

Matsya Thozhilalai Aikya Vedhi official Charles George said the price of kerosene under the public distribution system had risen to ₹84 per litre, which was unaffordable. The state government failed to deliver on its promise to provide jet fuel at lower rates. The budget presented by former Finance Minister TM Thomas Isaac had promised to provide fuel at ₹25 per liter to fishermen and ₹60 crore was set aside for the subsidy. But, the money was not used for that purpose, Mr George said.

There are an estimated 32,000 fishing vessels operating off the coast of Kerala. Among them, more than 14,000 ships had been verified as deserving of subsidized kerosene. However, the amount of subsidized fuel was insufficient to support even two days of operations a month, Mr George said.

A small ship required about 2,000 liters of kerosene per month considering 20 days of operation. But the subsidized amount of kerosene available for each boat was only 129 litres, he added.