GANDHINAGAR: The Gujarat Assembly on Friday passed a bill to discourage local fishermen from straying into Pakistani waters near the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) in the Arabian Sea.
The bill, which replaced an ordinance issued in July and seeks to amend certain provisions of the Gujarat Fisheries Act, 2003, was passed unanimously on the last day of the monsoon session of the state Assembly.
Introducing the Bill in the House, Minister of State for Home Pradeepsinh Jadeja said it was necessary to take strict action against erring fishermen and boat owners who stray into Pakistani waters for 'Lalpari' fish and eventually get caught by the authorities there.
Jadeja said not just IMBL, the fishermen are now barred from entering a 'no fishing zone' which is an area 10 nautical miles from the IMBL.
To keep a check on fishermen and stop them from indulging in such activities, the bill gave "search and seizure" powers to sub-inspectors or officials above that rank at any marine police station in the state, Jadeja said.
Such provisions will also keep a check on drug smuggling through the sea, he said.
"We know how RDX that landed on the Gozabara coast was used in the Mumbai blast.
In 2008, terrorists captured Kuber fishing boat near IMBL and reached Mumbai.
We aim to stop such activities by introducing this bill" said Jadeja.
As per the Bill, a fine of Rs 1 lakh will be imposed on boats from other states entering Gujarat's marine boundary, something the present Act did not have, he said.
Apart from the Rs 1 lakh fine, the bill also has provisions allowing authorities to sell catch brought in by such boats, and then impose another penalty which will be five times the sale amount of the catch, he added.