KOCHI:Deep resentment is brewing among the fishing community against the 61-day uniform fishing ban in the territorial waters, while the scientific community expressed reservation over the manner in which the ban is being imposed.
“In the absence of a legal framework, the uniform fishing ban by the Central Government cannot be implemented successfully,” they warned.The order issued by Agriculture Ministry joint secretary Dr Rajashekhar Vundru, imposing fishing ban in the exclusive economic zone (the area between 12 nautical miles and 200 nautical miles off the coast), is considered as a move to ban fishing throughout the country with the aim to conserve the depleting fishery resource. But, the fishing community is questioning the logic behind the ban, pointing out that the trawling ban along the west coast, a regular practice by the state governments, had failed to make any difference to the declining fishery resource.
CMFRI director A Gopalakrishnan said the institute had written to the secretary to the Animal Husbandry Department, Dairying and Fisheries, expressing concern over the recommendations of the Sayda Rao Committee, based on which the ban order was issued. “The order seems to have overlooked the issues we raised,” he said.
“We had recommended an increase in the period of trawling ban - to be implemented in two phases in the State. The order has many problems, and we have expressed our reservations about the Sayda Rao Committee recommendations. The stakeholders were not consulted,” said Dr Sunil Mohammed of the CMFRI.
Up to 12 nautical miles, state governments are in control of the sea. Many state governments, including the Kerala Government, have their own ‘Acts’ pertaining to marine fishing. Experts point out that in the absence of a legal frame work, the imposition of the ban through an order would not be effective. “Though the Centre has directed the Coast Guard to strictly implement the ban, it cannot penalise anyone for violating the ban,” they said.State Boat Owners’ Association secretary Joseph Xavier Kalappurakkal said the ban order was unconstitutional, and that the Association would take legal action against the move.
“While the CMFRI recommended ban of mechanised fishing vessels, the Centre is all out to ban traditional fishing boats also, which would push the fishing community further to the brink,” said Kerala Malsyathozhilali Aikyavedi state president Charles George. “A joint meeting of organisations in the fishing sector will be held in Thiruvananthapuram on Monday to chalk out plans for future agitations against this highly deplorable decision,” he added.