KOCHI: The State Government, which stood by the demands raised by the fishing community, has clarified that it was not in for a confrontation with the Centre on the issue of the uniform fishing ban.
Meanwhile, tension prevailed along the Kerala coast in the wake of the fisherfolk deciding to breach the fishing ban and challenge any attempt by the Coast Guard to restrict fishing activity in deep sea.
“We have made it clear that the uniform fishing ban would not be applicable up to 12 nautical miles from the coast, which falls under the jurisdiction of the State Government. If the fishermen go beyond that limit and the Coast Guard intervenes, it is up to the Central Government to take a call,” Fisheries Minister K Babu told ‘Express.’
“We are not for any confrontation with the Centre on the issue,” the Minister said in response to media reports that the Kerala Government was allowing fishermen to defy the Central ban. “We have made our reservations regarding the implementation of the 61-day fishing ban. If the fishermen defy the ban, we cannot do anything about it,” Babu said.
He said he hoped there would not be any law and order issue, and that the fishers would show restraint in case of any intervention by the Coast Guard.
“A meeting of high-level officials will be held on Tuesday to discuss the modalities of the annual trawling ban that would come into effect on June 15. However, the meeting has nothing to do with the fishing ban imposed by the Centre,” said the Minister.
Earlier in the day, speaking after laying foundation stone for the PG Hostel at the Kerala University of Fisheries and Ocean Studies (KUFOS), Babu urged the university to conduct a study on the scientific basis of trawling ban, considering the conditions prevailing in the State.
“Reports of the earlier studies on the issue have overlooked the peculiar situation in the State. The Centre’s ban, which is based on those reports, has created a crisis situation here,” he added.
“It is logical to bring in restrictions on unsustainable fishing practices. But, a blanket ban, denying the fisherfolk their sustenance and without providing any compensation to the affected communities, amounts to gross injustice,” said National Fish Workers Forum secretary T Peter.
“We have no other option, but to defy the ban. We will continue to fish. Our people know what to do if the Coast Guard try to prevent them,” he added.