1.5. Mechanization of fishing craft

Unit 1 - History and development of fishing craft

1.5. Mechanization of fishing craft
According to Mr. Gurtner, mechanization means the simple addition of motive power to the otherwise unchanged indigenous boat. The propulsion power would be in the form of an outboard or an inboard marine engine. On the other hand Mr. Paul B Zeiner has defined mechanization as installation of engine for propulsion and mechanical devices for handling of fishing gear.

Fishing boat mechanization in India
Till 1945, the traditional craft with sails and oars were the main stay of the fishermen. The mechanization was initiated by the erstwhile Madras presidency by constructing 6 m hard chine open boat powered by a single cylinder 5 HP diesel engine. The Government of India took a decision to develop fisheries on modern lines at national level in the early fifties. National and International agencies actively involved in this programme were Central Institute of Fisheries Technology, The Fisheries Department of some of the maritime states, FAO and INP (Indo–Norwegian project). Initially the mechanized fishing vessels were used mainly for the operation of gill nets. Subsequently, with the location of rich shrimp grounds along the south-western coast, larger and more powerful stern trawlers were developed.
The mechanization of fishing boats in India followed a step by step approach keeping in view the traditional attitude of the fisher men. Starting from a base (country craft) four stages can be identified in the mechanization programme.
  • First stage – Mechanization of country craft
  • Second stage – Introduction of simple small mechanized boats
  • Third stage–Improvement of newly designed boats and introduction of bigger specialized boats
  • Fourth stage – Broadening into fishing fleet
Hornell (1920) has investigated and published a detailed account of indigenous boats in the memoirs of Asiatic society of Bengal. Technical aspects of these boats were studied by Paul B Ziener, FAO expert who had been in India during 1953-1958. The suitability of mechanization was studied and the types of boats amenable to mechanization identified.

a) First stage – mechanization of country craft:
A few indigenous boats were found suitable for mechanization with a little modification. They were mechanized successfully under the supervision and guidance of Paul B Ziener and K. Rasumsson, FAO experts. The fishing boats of Gujarat and Maharastra especially were found ideally suited for mechanization. The boats to be mechanized under the programme were,
  • Lodhiyas and machwas of Saurashtra coast
  • Versova/Satpati boats of Maharashtra
  • Tuticorin boats of Tamil Nadu
  • Kakinada Navas of Andhra Pradesh
  • Batchari boats of West Bengal
By the end of 1969, about 3,000 indigenous boats were mechanized.

b) Second stage – Introduction of simple small mechanized boats:
Some of the states like Kerala, Karnataka and Orissa did not have suitable indigenous craft for mechanization. Secondly the country craft which were mechanized in the first stage were found suitable mainly for gill netting and long lining. Moreover, their operational range has not increased considerably beyond inshore water. Under these circumstances it was found necessary to introduce simple small mechanized boats.

Under this programme, a few new types were introduced as well as certain stable craft were developed for full mechanization. Both yielded encouraging response, many of the country crafts were redesigned by FAO experts. During 1955-58, about 10 new designs 7.5 m Pablo boat was found to be extremely successful and popular.

c) Third stage - Improvement of newly designed boat and introduction of bigger specialized boats:
Large sized specialized boats were introduced to meet the demand of the industry and to extend the operations in deeper waters. Some of the new designs introduced in the second stage of development were designed on the basis of operational performance to suit local conditions. Large commercial designs of advanced countries were studied carefully by the experts and were modified according to Indian requirements. The U.S.A. designs and construction methods were found most suitable for Indian conditions and hence were adopted with certain modifications. This programme was initiated by FAO followed by INP which developed 14 m design and C.I.F.T. which developed 15.5 m design. The next step was the introduction of offshore vessel. During the fourth five year plan, 17.5 m steel trawlers were introduced to conduct exploratory surveys and commercial fishing in the offshore waters. The experience gained in operating these vessels paved the way to the next generation of large trawlers.

During the fifth five year plan the Government of India gave permission to private entrepreneurs to import 30 Mexican double rig shrimp trawlers on the condition that an equal number of craft will be constructed in India. The double rig-Mexican trawlers were found extremely successful for capture of shrimps. The deep-sea fishing fleet has increased after the declaration of EEZ up to 200 miles in August 1976. Industrial fishery surveys were carried out by large imported deep sea vessels. Besides this private entrepreneurs were encouraged to charter and import vessels to carryout commercial operations. Some of the important mechanized and deep sea fishing boats introduced during various stages of mechanization programme in India.

d) Fourth stage–Broadening into fishing fleet:
After successful mechanized fishing in inshore, offshore and deep sea waters in EEZ, efforts were made by the Government of India to increase the number of fishing vessels and broaden as fleet to exploit the available marine resources. At the end of the eighth five year plan, the strength of mechanized boats and deep-sea vessels stood at 47,000 and 180 respectively.
Last modified: Wednesday, 27 June 2012, 8:52 AM