The Kerala Cabinet on Wednesday decided to call upon the Central government to convene a conference of fisheries ministers of coastal States to discuss the implications of the proposed Central legislation on marine fisheries.

The Cabinet felt the proposed Marine Fisheries (Regulation and Management) Bill would encroach upon the powers of the State for regulation of fisheries in the coastal waters and harm the interests of the traditional fishermen.

Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan told the media after the Cabinet meeting that the State government had already communicated its opposition to provisions in the Bill to the Centre. If the Bill is enacted, it would pave way for the entry of Indian corporate and foreign fishing vessels into the coastal waters of Kerala for fishing.

That would push the traditional fishermen into poverty. The Chief Minister said that instead of giving licences to foreign vessels for deep sea fishing, provision should be made in the Bill for allowing traditional fishermen and their cooperatives to undertake deep sea fishing. The Centre should discuss this and other issues with the States.