“Country boat fishermen using motorised boats”

Mechanised boat fishermen in this island are at loggerheads with their country boat counterparts over fishing during the 45-day ban period, even as an association has moved the Madras High Court against allowing country boat fishermen to fish during the ban period from April 14 to May 29, imposed to conserve marine wealth during the breeding season.

A Pamban-based fishermen association, represented by its secretary A. Arokiyam, has filed a petition before the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court, seeking a direction to the authorities to impose a total ban during the fish breeding season. He contended that the very purpose of imposing the ban stood defeated as the country boat fishermen used motorised boats for fishing and never confined their fishing activities within the three nautical miles.

U. Arulanandham in Pamban said any fishing activity during the ban period would affect marine resources but the fishermen should arrive at a mutual understanding on conserving marine wealth. The country boat fishermen should be convinced that the wealth could be better conserved if they also stayed away from fishing, he said.

Echoing his view, G. Gopakumar, Principal Scientist, Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI), said, “Scientifically speaking, a total ban is good to conserve marine resources but the social aspects have to be looked into.” He suggested participatory type of management to avoid possible social unrest.

Mechanised boat fishermen association office-bearers P. Sesu Raja and N.J. Bose also expressed their views that the ban should be total. The authorities should ensure that the ban was applicable to at least motorised country boats, they said.

Gone were the days when the country boat fishermen restricted their fishing activities within three nautical miles, Mr. Raja said, adding a majority of country boats were fitted with high-powered engines and the fishermen used half-a-dozen types of nets, he said.

Sources in the Fisheries Department said about 3,600 country boats, including more than 2,000 motorised boats, were engaged in fishing during the ban period. There was no danger to marine wealth as they used only gill and hook and line nets, they said. While non-motorised boats were allowed to fish throughout the week, motorised boats were allowed for four days in a week, the sources added.

“Country boat fishermen should be convinced that marine wealth can be better conserved if they also stayed away from fishing”