Against the backdrop of the Central notification curtailing fishing during the monsoon trawl ban period, Fisheries Minister S. Sarma is holding a consultation with leaders of fishing trade unions and other stakeholders here on Tuesday.

Though the pre-trawl-ban consultation had been a routine affair in the past, this time it assumes significance in light of the Union government's notification that bans fishing by “by fishing vessels in India's exclusive economic zone beyond territorial waters.” The fishing sector is confused about the impact of the ban. The 47-day monsoon trawl ban will take effect from June 15 and last until July 31 in all the Western Coast States simultaneously.

However, the restriction of fishing to the territorial waters — that is, 12 nautical miles, or 22 km from the shore — is considered ominous by the fishing sector. The restriction is said to be in the light of the Centre's Coastal Zone Regulation 2010. The regulation, said to be aimed at stepping up coastal security, is being opposed by the fishing communities. The Fisheries Minister will also hold an informal consultation with fishing stakeholders on Tuesday on the proposed regulation. The Union government has sought from the States their responses to the regulations by May 30.

On Sunday, the Matsya Thozhilali Aikyavedi called a meeting of traditional fishermen to discuss the impact of the monsoon trawl ban. Charles George, Aikyavedi's leader, pointed out that the Central government's notification was unlikely to hit the traditional fishermen's right to fish pelagic fish even during the monsoon trawl ban. This was ensured by a State legislation a couple of years ago. However, he said, the traditional fishermen would not accept any new restrictions imposed by the Union government through the notification.

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