Defying KMFR Act, illegal boat construction thrive in Kerala Coast

Several of the boat construction yards along the Kerala coast are alleged to be indulged in illegal construction of fishing boats, which the authorities fear, could be used for illegal activities.

Majority of the boat building yards where such illegal construction was being done is situated in Ernakulam, Thrissur and a few northern districts, highly placed sources said. All these boat building yards were constructing fishing vessels of all sizes, without adhering to the provisions in the Kerala Marine Fishing Regulation Act, they said.

The sources said that the boats are under various stages of construction. They said that many of the boats were being constructed without proper documentation.

When contacted, Kerala Fisheries Minister J Mercykutty Amma said “the government has brought in amendment to the KMFR Act, which specifies that all boat building yards should be registered. No one can function here without registration.”

When asked about reports that illegal construction of boats were going on in the coasts, she said that there were no rules earlier for regulating these boat building yards. “Now under the amended KMFR Act, all boat building yards should be registered,” she said.

Meanwhile, the sources said that the KMFR act has not been implemented fully and the enforcement agencies are yet to act. IT is alleged that many of the boat building yards have taken up construction as well as maintenance of fishing boats without even identifying the real owners. “Many of the boat building yards are not aware for whom the boats are being constructed as proper documents have not been produced,” they said.  

The highly placed sources said that the government should take serious note of the situation in the backdrop of the recent Munambam human trafficking case. “No one knows for whom these boats are being built and for what purpose. No one can ignore the possibility of these boats landing in the hands of people, who indulge in other activities,” they said.  

“It is not just illegal construction that is going on at these boat building yards but maintenance and even modification is going on, they said and added that unregistered boats and modifications being made without any proper documents pose a great danger. Noting that fishing boats from other states also came here for maintenance, they said that the entire enforcement agency should have to keep a record of all the boats that arrive here.  

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