Bad weather allowance as a form of social aid to support fishermen

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Mauritius: Bad Weather Allowance is payable to registered fishermen who have not been able to go fishing due to bad weather conditions. Fishermen are, nevertheless, encouraged to do alternative activities, such as mending their nets and repairing their boats when they are not involved in fishing activities.

The Ministry of Blue Economy, Marine Resources, Fisheries and Shipping assesses eligibility criteria for the payment of bad weather allowance.

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The Acting Deputy Controller of the Ministry of Blue Economy, Marine Resources, Fisheries and Shipping, Mr Oomesh Chand Mathura, highlighted that a bad weather day is forecasted by the Mauritius Meteorological Services, which is announced on the radio in the bulletin for fishermen.

He also stated that fishermen are unable to go fishing for 15 to 20 days in the months of June and July due to bad weather conditions and that Government is presently disbursing around Rs one million per day for the daily bad weather allowance.

He also spoke of the new regulations as per the New Fishermen’s cards for newly registered fishermen, where they have to abide by specific rules to be entitled to the daily bad weather allowance.

Bad Weather Allowance is applicable to registered fishermen in Mauritius and Rodrigues as follows –

(i) a bad weather day would be defined as a day when the sea is rough, rough to moderate or moderate to rough;

(ii) registered artisanal fishers shall be paid a bad weather allowance based on attendance at the respective Fisheries Post to clean the assigned Fish Landing Station/shoreline/beach in the locality.

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(iii) payment would be effected every month, and the fisher should, however, have his/her card duly stamped for at least one month immediately preceding the month of payment; and

(iv) the newly registered fishers would be eligible for Bad Weather Allowance only up to retirement age.

Over the years, the Government has increased the Bad Weather Allowance in a bid to ensure a better quality of life for fishers and their families. Budget 2022-2023 made provision for an increase in the daily Bad Weather Allowance from Rs 475 to Rs 575.

In Mauritius, there are 60 fish landing stations across the country. As of November 2022, the number of registered fishermen stood at 1739, out of which some 1585 fishers benefit from the daily bad weather allowance.

REGISTRATION OF ARTISANAL FISHERS

Interested persons can make their applications free of charge at the 15 Fisheries Posts across the island.

Eligibility criteria

1. The applicant fisher shall not be less than 18 years and not more than 50 years at the time of application.

2. The applicant fisher shall be neither engaged in gainful employment nor be the holder of a trade licence or any remunerative licence.

3. The applicant fisher shall submit a valid Certificate of Character.

4. The applicant fisher shall submit a recommendation letter from the registered fishers in whose boat he/she is fishing.

5. The fishing activities of the applicant fisher shall be monitored for a consecutive period of six (6) months and the fisher shall have fished for more than 75% of the fishing days excluding bad weather days, Sundays and public holidays in any month.

6. The applicant fisher shall be medically fit to work at sea as certified by a Government Medical Officer.

7. The applicant fisher shall have certified swimming skills.

8. The eligible applicant fisher shall be required to successfully complete the General Fisher Course conducted by the Ministry responsible for Fisheries, as approved by the Accounting Officer, to be registered as an artisanal fisher.

For fishers to continue to be considered registered fishermen and benefit from Government schemes, they have to abide by the conditions attached to the artisanal fisher card. They are as follows:

1. The registered artisanal fisher shall have to undergo a medical examination every five years to ascertain his/her fitness to go at sea up to retirement age. If found medically unfit, he/she would benefit from the payment of compensation on surrendering the fisher card. Those who have surrendered their fisher cards on the medical ground would not be eligible to re-apply for a new fisher card.

2. The registered fisher shall produce a record of his/her monthly catch details to the Fisheries Post.

3. Any registered fisher who has not carried out fishing activities and has not produced his/ her Fisher Register for stamping purposes for a continuous period of six (6) months without any valid justification shall be deregistered.

4. The registered fisher shall fish at least 75% of fishing days during any month for the purpose of stamping the fisher card (not applicable to net fishers during a closed season).

5. Any registered fisher found to be in gainful employment or be the holder of a trade licence or any remunerative licence shall be deregistered.

6. The registered fisher shall inform, in writing, the Ministry responsible for Fisheries in case he/she is unable to continue fishing activities for medical/ personal reasons.

7. In case of loss of the Fisher Identity Card, the registered fisher shall report the matter to the Police and arrange with the Ministry for the replacement of the Fisher Identity Card.

8. The Ministry responsible for Fisheries reserves the right to amend the conditions set out above.

In a bid to further promote the welfare of registered fishermen and their families, the Fishermen Welfare Fund was created in the year 2000. 

The Fund provides an array of services to develop schemes and projects for the welfare of registered fishermen ranging from Financial Assistance for Fishermen Families in Distress, Sickness Allowance, and Winter Allowance to Financial Assistance for the purchase of materials for the building of Baskets traps.

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