The panel probing the upshots of trawling ban during the southwest monsoon will cast its net wide.

Apart from studying the impact of the 47-day break, the panel will also look at a bag of options to conserve marine wealth.

K. Sunil Mohammed, the scientist member of the committee and head of the Molluscan Fisheries Division at the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI), told The Hindu that monsoon ban alone would not help conserve Kerala’s marine fisheries resources. Though a number of regulations exist, most of them were not effectively enforced. The ban, which had been in place for a quarter century, was a major resource management tool, but more measures were must for the sustainable development of fish resources.

The panel, headed by additional director of the Fisheries Department Saira Banu, was set up following a demand from the fishing sector for a study on the impact of the annual 47-day holiday on trawling. The committee is currently collecting the views of all stakeholders in the fishing industry. It has already held two sittings at Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram, and one more would be held at Kozhikode.

The panel has handed out a detailed questionnaire which covers a range of issues, including “the effectiveness or otherwise of the monsoon ban, the need to regulate other fishing gears, the size and capacity of machines used, etc,” he said. It also sought views on whether the ban period should be stretched beyond 47 days, whether the ban period should be moved to some other months, whether the limits of Kerala’s territorial waters should be extended beyond the current 12 nautical miles and also on the welfare measures offered to fishers during the ban period.

Mr. Mohammed, who is one of the four scientists on the panel, said there was an overwhelming opinion that trawling ban should continue. The fish workers have called for more curbs on fishing practices.

Mr. Mohammed said trawling ban was now a reality both on the east and the west coasts of the country. On the west coast—from Gujarat to Kerala—it was uniform from June 15 to July 31. On the east coast, the ban takes effect from April 15 and lasts until May 31. In the past, fishermen in Gujarat voluntarily stayed off fishing for three months during the Southwest monsoon.

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