Decision on Fishing Regulation Thrown to the Wind

Published: 24th January 2016 05:07 AM  |   Last Updated: 24th January 2016 05:07 AM   |  A+A-

KOCHI:  The exemplary resolve on self-regulation and responsible fishing by a big section of the fishers in the state has hit rock bottom, raising fears that the breakdown of the earlier decision may lead to tension among various stake holders.

Juvenile fishing, coupled with ‘pelagic famine’ that pushes fisher folk to the brink, has further complicated things in the sector. 

Months after the commendable initiative last June by fishers from Punnapra in Alappuzha to Nattika in Thrissur and deliberations that followed reached a consensus on stopping juvenile fishing and night fishing, a decision which was hailed by the academic community as ‘Kochi Initiative’, discordant views are being aired by the leaders in the fisheries sector. The initiative, however, had not reached a formal agreement.

All-Kerala Fishing Boat Operators Association (AKFBOA) is up in arms against the government’s alleged laxity in keeping check on the juvenile fishing by boats from Tamil Nadu while ‘purposefully harassing’ the operators in the state over alleged illegal fishing. Deliberate lapse in checking boats from Tamil Nadu that engage in juvenile fishing will not only scuttle the regulations here but will also backfire on the fishing sector in the state, the boat operators warned.

“Juvenile fish landings in Muttam Harbour in Tamil Nadu are to the tune of `6 crore to `7 crore and a good part is caught from our coast. A section of officials in the Fisheries Department are hand in glove with the fish feed lobby. They crack down on us, but let them have a free playing ground,” Joseph Xavier, AKFBOA secretary, alleged.

The Kerala Swathanthra Malsya Thozhilali Federation leaders warned that the organisation would be forced to stop the boats that engage in juvenile fishing and pelagic pair trawling. Destructive fishing practices continue at the cost of the livelihood of thousands of traditional fishermen. It also alleged that a section of boat owners were trying to scuttle the measures taken up by the state government to regulate juvenile fishing.

Charles George, president, Kerala Matsya Thozhilali Aikyavedi, appealed to all players in the sector not to scuttle their unanimous resolve to stop unsustainable practices in fishing. “Any backtracking from the earlier decision will be disastrous for the whole sector and will have a long-term impact,” he said.

In the same vein, he urged the state government to take up the issue of juvenile fishing with Tamil Nadu and start a joint effort to check it.

Time Line

  • June 27, 2015 : - A meeting of traditional fishermen from Alappuzha to Thrissur and fisheries experts  in Kalamukku, Kochi, laid stress on the need for codes for responsible fishing practices   
  • - Multi-stakeholder platform suggested for monitoring the implementation of the code 4 July 2015
  • - Meeting with trawl boat owners at CMFRI came out with another code pertaining to the trawl fishing sector
  • 17 July 2015 :  A consensus code reached, unanimously decided to form multi-stakeholder fisheries co-governance committees in two major harbours of Kochi and Munambam as well as major landing centres in Ernakulam on an experimental basis
  • 30 July 2015 : District administration in a meeting with stake holders, experts and officials elaborated on the way forward
  • August, 2015 : The government announces minimum legal size of 14 varieties of fish to check rampant juvenile fishing

Suggestions Mooted

■ Strict vigil on fishing boats engaging in juvenile fishing

■ Inter-state fisheries dispute mechanism

■ Joint surveillance mechanism with neighbouring states

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