THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: With state governments going soft on the trawling of juvenile fish for the manure industry, the Centre is planning to seek tougher action against unsustainable fishing practices.
Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh assured National Fishworkers Federation (NFF) in a recent meeting that the ban on using purse seine and pair trawling nets would be enforced in all states, T Peter, Secretary of NFF, said. According to him the central government would direct other states to follow the Maharashtra model.
Catching juvenile fish has been one of the major challenges faced by fishers. Attempts at self-regulation and fixing minimum legal size for fish have not been effective as the sea is shared by boats from different states. Fishermen have been calling for a national policy to curb the menace that has started affecting their catch.
In highly politicised coastal areas, the efforts of the fisheries department and marine police are not effective without the backing of the state government, said a senior official with the department. Munambam, a place near Kochi and Neendakara in Kollam are notorious for this practice.
As the fishmeal lobby in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu entrenched its grip over the harbours in the state, tons of juvenile threadfin breams, ribbon fishes, mackerel and leather jacket are sold at cheaper rates. If allowed to grow, these fish would fetch a higher market value. But at present, a kilogram of these tiny fish are sold for a meagre price of `10.
The fishermen had a tradition of sustainable fishing. They used to leave the bycatch to the sea itself, said B Ambrose, a traditional fisherman. “But now, workers and boat owner share the ‘extra profit’ by selling the young fish to the manure industry,” he added.