KOCHI:In the fight against the uniform fishing ban imposed by the Central government, the fishers in the state find the data presented by the Dr Syda Rao committee report, on which the decision to bring in the ban was taken, as a handy weapon to counter it. The report provides the much needed scientific ground to counter the uniform ban irrespective of diverse and complex conditions of coastal states, they feel.
The report of the technical committee headed by Dr G Syda Rao to review the duration of the ban period and to suggest further measures to strengthen the conservation and management aspects, analysing the spawning months, states that the tropical species in Indian waters have a much prolonged spawning season and at any given time there could be several species spawning. “Therefore, spawning period alone cannot be taken as criteria for closing fishing season,” it added.
According to the report, there is a large number of pelagic species spawn during May-July along the West Coast including Kerala, but adds that spawning does take place throughout the year for many other pelagics. Many demersal fish and crustaceans spawn during January- March and mollusks during October- November, January and March-April. Considering the particular conditions, the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI) had suggested a ban split as pre and post monsoon, suited for the Kerala.
“In Kerala, more than 55 per cent of the annual catch, which sustains the fishery sector here, is made during the monsoon,” said Joseph Xavier, the president of the State Boat Owners Association. w Given the complexity, the committee suggested a dedicated scientific team for looking into the breeding of all important species to generate credible periodic information. “There were no significant differences in catch and ‘catch per unit effort’ trends of different species or groups of fish before and after introduction of fishing ban along the West Coast.” The information needed for the time-area closure can only be generated with the establishment of dedicated scientific monitoring machinery with necessary infrastructure, the report adds.
“Since the spawning period alone cannot be taken as criteria” for the ban, the committee says that “the closed season coincides with the period of rough weather, and therefore ensures safety of fishermen.”
Joseph Xavier, who is preparing to file a case against uniform ban before the High Court of Kerala, cuts this justification, “If safety is the concern, why a continuous 61-day ban? If safety was the concern, a report of the weatherman would have worth the weight,” he quips. The accidents at the sea is less than one per cent of the total accidents on land. More over, we have 17 major landing centres, unlike other states, and fishing boats can quickly return to safety if the sea suddenly turned turbulent, he added.