Fishermen’s Associations have sought cancellation of the licenses issued to foreign fishing vessels as they were violating all guidelines and depleting fish stocks to the detriment of Indian fishermen.
Addressing a media conference here on Friday, Association of Indian Fishery Industries (AIFI) president Y.G.K. Murthy said that the A.P. High Court has issued interim orders directing the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Shipping and seven other respondents not to allow foreign vessels, operating with Letters of Permit (LOP), to enter into the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of India pending disposal of the writ petition filed by the Association.
He said that the foreign vessels were misusing the letters of permit scheme to fish in the Indian waters. The foreign vessels were operating within 12 nautical miles in shallow waters between Nizampatnam in Andhra Pradesh and Paradeep port in Orissa.
Dr. Murthy said that the foreign vessel operators were not even reporting the position of their vessels, amount of catch and were also violating the RBI guidelines through mid-sea transfer of catch causing huge loss to the national economy and also playing with the security of the nation.
The Murari Committee's recommendations of September 1996 have not been implemented by the Government of India so far. The Committee was against allowing foreign vessels to fish in the Indian waters. Though foreign vessels were not ‘officially’ allowed till 2002, they were being allowed subsequently.
Dr. Murthy said that the registration of foreign vessels was not valid in India but it was being done by the officials. He felt that this problem wouldn’t have arisen had Murari Committee Recommendations been implemented. The crew of these vessels were foreigners and it was not possible for foreigners to work in India without an employment Visa. He alleged that the biggest maritime fraud was taking place with the connivance of bureaucrats and politicians.
President of AP Mechanised Boat Owners Welfare Association P.C. Appa Rao said there was no truth in the contention of the Government that tuna was found only in the deep sea. Visakha Dolphin Boat Owners Welfare Association president Ch. Satyanarayana Murty said that the entry of foreign vessels has depleted the tuna resources though there were enough tuna stocks to last for the next 15 years.
Dr. Murthy said that was against ratification or implementation of the Convention 188 of ILO in Indian fishing industry and felt that proper implementation of the existing Indian fishing laws were enough to take care of the interests of fishermen. The association would decide on the future course of action after three weeks.