Team to study issue: Fisheries expert calls for banning bull-trawling and use of diamond-shaped mesh

Even as Karnataka’s Ministry of Fisheries has second thoughts on banning bull-trawling, there are fears that the “destructive” system of fishing, will adversely hit sustainable fishing.

In bull-trawling, a pair of high-speed fishing boats drags wide-net leaving hardly any scope for the fishes such as sardine, mackerel and ribbon to escape. Using this method, the fishermen are said to catch more than double the usual quantity in some cases.

While the Fisheries Engineering Department of College of Fisheries has sounded alarm bells, a study undertaken by a scientific research body pointed out the pitfalls way back in 1992. The study had indicated that the problem was worsening year after year.

They pointed out that the far too many juveniles were caught in bull-trawling with the population of progeny — required for reproduction — declining sharply.

Professor and Head of the Department of Department of Fisheries Engineering in the college B. Hanumanthappa said while the regular boats run at three nautical miles per hour, the new high-speech boats can achieve up to five nautical miles per hour — faster than the shoals can move.

Another danger is the diamond-shaped mesh, which is less than 10 mm in size, while ideally, it should be 13 mm and square-shaped. Prof. Hanumanthappa said his research in 2010 highlighted that the diagonal-shaped nets open up only 20 per cent — the gap being a mere 3 mm – which would trap all the juveniles in its way. Moreover, the fishermen discard the juveniles as they do not fetch good price.

Prof. Hanumnathappa suggested banning bull-trawling and implementing mesh regulation.

Karavali Sampradayika Nadadoni Meenugarara Sangha Navamangaluru president Vasudev B.K. said 1,400 owners of traditional boats were the worst hit and demanded ban on bull trawling.

Minister of State for Fisheries K. Abhayachandra Jain’s announcement on November 22 that bull-trawling would be banned in 15 days was met with stiff opposition from trawl boat owners. Sources in the Fisheries Department said on Monday that a team of experts was likely to be constituted in this regard.

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