Fisheries and marine enforcement officials here have stepped up their efforts to act against operators of mechanised boats violating the Kerala Marine Fisheries Regulation Act 1980 in response to complaints from traditional fishermen in the area.
The officials are now intensifying their measures against the violations of the clauses in the Act in view of disputes between the traditional fishermen using their traditional craft and gear and the trawlers over fishing in specified zones. A mechanised boat was seized at sea a few days ago by the Fisheries and Marine enforcement officials for violation of the clauses of the Act. The boat was captured by a team of officials including Fisheries Assistant Director Mariyam Haseena and Marine Enforcement and Vigilance Sub Inspector P.K. Venugopal. On finding that the trawler was fishing in waters having less than 20 metre depth, Fisheries Deputy Director Dinesh Cheruvat slapped a fine of Rs. 25,000 on the trawler’s operator N. Balakrishnan from Mahe.
As per the clauses in the Act, mechanised boats should not fish in zones demarcated for traditional fishermen. The Act clearly specifies depth zones for different sectors of fishermen. A major complaint from the traditional fishermen, according to Mr. Venugopal, is that the mechanised boats are poaching into inshore areas earmarked for traditional fishing. There are complaints from local fishermen about mechanised boats trawling even in waters having a depth of eight metres, he said adding that the traditional fishermen are charging the mechanised operators with depriving the former of their catches.
The other major complaints from the traditional fishermen against the mechanised operators included trawling at night and, inshore trawling, both violations under the Act. Another common violation which is being brought to the attention of enforcement officials is the practice of joining two mechanised boats for extensive fishing.
The officials said that action would also be taken against other violations including fishing without registration certificates and fishing licence, non-display of registration numbers on boats and failure to carry identity cards issued to fishermen.
The officials say that there were cases of infringement by the trawlers into the areas of traditional fishermen who often complain that mechanised boats are depriving them of their livelihood. The Act protects the interests of the traditional fishermen against the interests of operators of industrial fishing, they add.