Kochi, July 29 : 'Chinese Fishing Nets', a centuries old unique fishing technique, introduced by Chinese traders in the 14th Century, finds it hard to survive in the coastal town of Kochi. The huge wooden cantilever nets which look like spiders on the shores catching fish in backwaters of Fort Kochi, attracts thousands of tourists both domestic and international.
The Chinese fishing nets in Kerala, it id believed, were introduced by traders from the court of Chinese ruler Kublai Khan in Cochin during the 14th century.
But this heritage of more than 500 years old trade relations between India and China is on the verge of extinction and soon would be history.
But till the time that happens, the tourists are cherishing the beauty of the unique fishing net.
"On the beach, it's definitely the Chinese net that looks phenomenal and it is quite an intricate design that obviously works very well. Its good to see that they are used so frequently as well," said Colin, a Scottish tourist.
Kerala has been successfully promoted as a tourism destination and has been projected as 'God's own country' by the government, but residents feel that nothing has been done to preserve the age-old heritage.
According to International Forum for Cultural Heritage, (IFCHAT), lack of efforts on the government's end has provoked them to take the task of preserving the ancient Chinese fishing nets.
"We have made a representation to the State as well as the Central Government and the Archeological Survey of India to take necessary steps to protect this. They have not done anything. Day-by-day Chinese net is getting dilapidated," said Austin Paul, President, IFCHAT.
On the other side, even the local fishermen blame the government for not taking interest in preserving the traditional Chinese nets.
"Tourists come here to see the beach, Chinese nets and the famous St. Francis Church. I remember there were more than 21 nets few years back in this beach alone. But now, there are hardly few left and all these here are the remains of the nets; everything has gone from here," said K. Solomon, a fisherman.
Tourism has emerged as Kerala's fastest growing industry, with the sector registering a growth rate almost double the national average in the past years. By Juhan Samuel