MUMBAI : A few months ahead for the Lok Sabha and State elections this year, the CM Devendra Fadnavis on Friday in Satpati, a fishing village, announced a slew of sops for the fishing community. 

Fadnavis said as per the new Fisheries Ministry formed by the Centre, we will give loans to fishermen at 4 per cent interest instead of 14 per cent earlier, on par with farmers' loans, which is being given in similar manner. 

We have already Purse sein fishing within 12 nautical miles from the coast so that traditional fishermen should not lose their livelihood,said Fadnavis. In Purse sein fishing, the nets forms like a purse in the sea bed and sweeps along the marine products, including fish eggs, thus there are large scale loss to small fishermen,said Fadnavis. So we have put a ban on this acvitity, within 12 nautical miles off the coast, so as to safeguard the small fishermen,said Fadnavis. The Coast Guard has also been roped in to control the Purse sein fishing near the coast, he said.

The government will be giving 10,000 free ice boxes to fish mongers, as they sell the marine products,and as we have banned plastic and thermocol boxes, we have decided to give the ice boxes to store the fishes,after we received complaints from fisherwomen said Fadnavis. Furthermore, we will construct fish markets in the entire State, but we need land and as soon as we get the land parcel, fish markets would be constructed so that a centralised place is located for the sale of marine products,said Fadnavis.

We have already gave the nod on 5 February to construct the breakwater walls along the coast of Satpati,which was a long pending issue, as during the monsoon, without the breakwater wall, sea water entered the fishermen's homes and destroyed property,said Fadnavis.

The government will start vocational training centres in all fisheries schools located in the State, so that students of fishermen study various trade courses like fitters, welders and other trade,said Fadnavis.

We are considering to give safety kits to all fish khalasis (fish labourers) who risk their lives while fishing at high seas, and with the safety kits, tragedies at sea would be reduced considerably, said Fadnavis. During the fishing ban for two months, the fishermen are out of work, so we are considering to give Rs 4,500 per month as compensation till the fishing season commences and also considering extending the fishing ban during the monsoon from 1 May to 15 August,said Fadnavis. 

On the ongoing ONGC seismic oil survey in Palghar, we are discussing with Dharmendra Pradhan, Union Petroleum Minister to consider handing over compensation to destruction of fishing implements, like boats, nets, etc. during the survey and as of now the survey is halted till 12 February, but the survey is also needed in the national interest for exploring oil deposits in the seas, said Fadnavis.

More than Rs 240 crore have been sanctioned for the construction of fishing harbours in Karanja in Raigad district and Arnala near Virar in Palghar district, and there are proposals to construct more fishing harbours and jetties for the benefit of fishermen,said Fadnavis.