Trawling ban: Government nixes panel report

The State Government will not implement the recommendation of the expert committee to extend the period of the trawling ban from 47 days to 75 days, this year. Fisheries Minister K Babu said that the conventional trawl ban would be carried out this year which would begin from June 14 midnight.

The nine-member expert committee, constituted by the government to evaluate fish wealth and the impact of trawl ban along the Kerala coast, in its report had recommended that the ban should be extended from 47 to 75 days, starting from June 18 to August 31. The Fisheries Minister told Express that the recommendations of the expert committee would not be implemented this year as the fisherfolks in the state have to be taken into confidence before implementing the recommendation. “This year the trawl ban of 47 days starting from June 14 midnight will be carried out. A meeting with all major stakeholders in the fisheries sector is scheduled on June 11 to discuss the ban,” he said. The Minister said that in the last meeting held with various union leaders in the fisheries sector, the expert committee report was discussed in detail. “The government invited their suggestions on the report. Their suggestions will be discussed and presented before the co-ordination committee that has been constituted. The suggestions will be incorporated in the expert committee report. No decisions will be taken on the report without taking the fisherfolks in the state into confidence,” Babu said.

The expert committee, in its report submitted to the government this month, had also recommended that the outboard motor and inboard motor ring seiners should be banned for a period of 60 days from April 1 to May 30 to protect pelagic spawning stocks. “There will not be any seasonal fishing ban for non-motorised traditional vessels. The advantages of such an extension period should be reviewed after three years by a scientific committee,” the report said. The representatives of major trade unions and fishing boat operators opposed the recommendations of the committee forcing the State Government not to rush with the implementation of the report. The All-Kerala Fishing Boat Operators’ Association said that the State Government should reject the report as it lacked scientific backing. However, fisherfolks from Thiruvananthapuram to Alappuzha welcomed the ban on the ring seiners as the number of boats being operated here are low compared to other districts.

T Peter, secretary, National Fish Workers Forum and president of Swathanthra Matsya Thozilali Federation said that their opinion was to implement the trawl ban for 90 days “Also the use of the illegal nets should be banned. The mesh sizes in nets,both in length and depth should be regularised to protect the fish wealth in the state,” he said. The expert committee, in its report, had also laid down the legal mesh sizes for different gears and also the optimum mesh sizes had been determined for species targeted by gillnets.

 “The optimum mesh sizes and dimensions for all commonly used gears should be strictly adhered to. The Fisheries Dept should also bring in restrictions on engine horsepower based on fishing craft sizes,” the Committee recommended.

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