KOCHI: A two-member team from the US visited fishing harbours in Ernakulam and Thrissur this past week, considering a request to lift the ban on Indian wild caught shrimp in US markets.Comprising US Department of State environmental officer Joseph A Fette and US National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) equipment specialist Kendall Falana, the team studied the activities at the harbours and the types of fishing nets used by trawlers.
The US had banned import of wild caught shrimp from India after the US Department of State found the fishing practices followed here non-compliant with US regulations to protect sea turtles. After India’s plea that adequate steps to protect sea turtles during the course of commercial shrimp fishing had been initiated, a team had inspected harbours in the eastern coast last year. India had maintained the population of sea turtles was low in the Arabian sea and the US then deputed another team to inspect the harbours in the western coast.
The US has insisted on equipping fishing gear with Turtle Excluder Devices (TED) to ensure no turtle is harmed during fishing. Though the Central Institute of Fisheries Technology (CIFT) developed a TED, it is learnt Falana, who develops innovative TED technology for NMFS, suggested a few modifications to the device.
Big nets a no-no
The US team also visited harbours at Nellur in Andhra Pradesh, Chennai, Kanyakumari and Mumbai.
Fisheries deputy director S Mahesh said the team members discussed the need to avoid big fishing nets. The team members said Waahington is considering a protocol for the protection of the marine mammals.