KOCHI: The Ministry of Forests and Environment’s notification banning the sale and display of over 150 fish varieties has garnered flak from farmers and retailers involved in the sector.
To protect the interests of ornamental fish traders, a new body, the Ornamental Fish Association (OFA), was also formed. The association on Wednesday announced its decision to organise stirs against the Centre’s notification across the state, starting with a march and dharna in front of the office of CMFRI (Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute) in Kochi on Thursday.
“The notification is impractical. We demand it be withdrawn. The fishing sector comes under the purview of the state government,” said OFA president Santhosh Baby.
He said farming of edible fish will also be affected by the notification.
“Close to one lakh aquarium traders operating in the state will have to wind up their business as per the notification. It calls for the appointment of a veterinarian to maintain an aquarium. How can a trader appoint a veterinarian on a monthly salary of `50,000?” said Baby.Charles George, the state president of Matsya Thozhilali Aikya Vedi, said the notification lacked clarity on the kind of ornamental fish people could keep in their houses.
“It has also not defined whether farmers farming edible fish varieties come under its purview. Display and sale of as many as 158 fish varieties including clownfish, butterfly fish and angelfish have been banned. Most of the fish are seen in small aquariums in houses,” George said.OFA office-bearer Abdul Rashid said the business of ornamental fish was already under duress.
“The notification will further hit people involved in the sector. Ornamental fish varieties are not placed in the endangered species category at present. So, the rationale for imposing the ban is unknown. Even institutions like CMFRI and MPEDA (Marine Products Exports Development Authority) were not consulted before the notification was issued,” Rashid said.
The OFA office-bearers also alleged the notification was a copy of some other nation’s rules as a few terms used in it were not commonly used in India.“In the notification, water level is quantified in gallons instead of litres,” they said.