Impound them and prosecute the crew: boat operators

Fishermen and seafood exporters are seething with anger over the silence of the authorities to stop mid-sea “looting of tuna” by foreign vessels violating the ban period being observed in the East Coast from April 15 to May 31.

Several traditional fishermen, who noticed the fishing vessels from Sri Lanka and Letter of Permit (LoP) vessels from Taiwan indulging in deep sea fishing, have alerted the Indian vessel owners on the violation of the ban.

The ban is enforced by the industry on the orders of the Department of Fisheries of the States concerned every year as part of a conservation effort. It is binding only on all types of motorised vessels.

A tuna long liner from Taiwan was spotted capsized and drifting towards CGG Amadeus, an ONGC survey vessel. This was reported to the Association of Indian Fishery Industry (AIFI) on May 5 by some traditional fishermen.

Visakha Dolphin Boat Operators' Welfare Association president Ch. Satyanarayana Murthy said as per reports received by them, several Sri Lankan trawlers were intruding into the Indian waters, particularly in the East Coast, violating the ban. The authorities should immediately impound the vessels and prosecute the crew, he said.

Complaint lodged

“What is the fun in observing the ban when foreign vessels are allowed to go scot free by our authorities?” asked AIFI president Y.G.K. Murty. Agitated over the development, AIFI faxed a complaint to the Secretary, Ministry of Animal Husbandry, Dairying, and Fisheries recently .

According to sources in the fishing industry, LoP vessels, mostly from Taiwan, have dual registration. By resorting to painting on the hull to hide their Taiwanese identity, they get the registration done by the Indian authorities. Once they enter the international waters, they remove the painting to pose as a Taiwanese vessel, thereby evading payment of duties, declaration to value of their catch, and their income to the Indian authorities.

“Dual registration is a blatant violation of Section 435 of the Marine Shipping Act, and our umpteen number of representations to the authorities concerned have fallen on deaf ears due to reasons best know to them,” a tuna exporter from the city said.

  • Ban is being observed in the East Coast from April 15 to May 31 as part of conservation effort

  • ‘LoP vessels, mostly from Taiwan, have dual registration in blatant violation of relevant Act'