KOCHI: Fishing vessels operating along Kerala Coast do not meet vessel length-engine power combinations and the introduction of high-power engines of Chinese origin in trawling sector is an unnecessary intervention, says the expert committee which conducted a study on the impact of trawling ban.
The power of engines ranges from 90 hp to 140 hp for 15 m-long trawlers. The committee report states that increasing the power beyond this limit will result in a proportional increase in the speed and economic operation of the vessel in terms of fuel cost and initial investment.
“It is clear that vessels operating in Kerala do not meet the vessel length-engine power combination as per the norms. The power of Chinese engines far exceed the limit required for the length of the vessel. Extraordinary increase in vessel size and engine capacity is found in ring seine fishery. Such interventions have come about due to the intense competition among fishing vessels for getting higher catch and to make operation profitable,” it is stated in the report.
The committee recommends that the length-power combination suggested in the report should be incorporated as an amendment to the Kerala Marine Fishing Regulation Act,(KMFRRA) rules and serve as a guideline for the Department of Fisheries.
Another suggestion by the committee is to declare a moratorium on construction of new vessels. “If construction of new vessels is permitted, the government should ensure that the revised norms are being followed,” the committee recommends. “During routine inspection of vessels and their registrations, the officials of the Department of Fisheries should issue advisory notes to vessel owners if they are found to have violated norms and they should be asked to comply with the regulations within five years failing which the registrations are liable to be cancelled,” the report recommends.
The committee suggests that the provision of temporary cancellation of licence might be included in the KMFRA rules.
The scientist and technical experts in the committee were also of the opinion that the use of illegal nets and mesh should be controlled.
“Instead of isssuing a blanket licence, permission should be given on the basis of the gear used. A maximum of two licences may be granted for a vessel - one for trawling and the other for gillnetting,” the report states.