Kerala

After seizure of banned gear, fisheries dept. appeals for calm

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The State Department of Fisheries has appealed for calm in the face of a stand-off between boat owners and traditional fishermen over pelagic trawling within 12 nautical miles where the practice is banned under the Kerala Marine Fisheries Regulation Act.

The confrontation was triggered by an incident on Wednesday when a group of traditional fishermen confronted two boats allegedly engaged in pelagic trawling off the coast of Vypeen. Both the boats and fishing gear were captured by the traditional fishers and handed over to the Marine Enforcement wing of the Fisheries Department.

An official of the department said the boats and nets had not been released and that the boat owners would be proceeded against.

However, boat operators have denied the allegations. Joseph Xavier Kalapurakkal of the Kerala Boat Opeators’ Association said the boat owners were not interested in violating laws and that the boats, captured on Wednesday, were on their way to fishing in the outer seas. He claimed that trawl nets could not be operated near the shore area.

Fishermen’s charge

The traditional fishermen have accused big boats of engaging in pelagic or pair/bull trawling within the inshore area, a practice condemned as destructive because of its potential to kill vast quantities of fish juveniles.

However, boat owners deny these accusations. Mr. Kalapurackal said the traditional fishermen were taking the law into their hands, a development that will only help vitiate the atmosphere.

Charles George of fishermen’s unity centre Matsya Thozhilali Aikyavedi appealed to all to apply their reason and not to get into confrontation over the issue. The issue of juvenile fishing is one over which there is a broad consensus among the stakeholders, he said.

Fishermen, both traditional and boat operators, have agreed to desist from practices like pelagic and night trawling and catch of juveniles, he reminded the fishermen community.

At the same time, he called on the government to step in and take action against those violating fishing regulations.

The State Fisheries Department is set to convene a meeting of the stakeholders to calm nerves and to diffuse the situation.

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Printable version | Dec 8, 2019 11:26:45 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/After-seizure-of-banned-gear-fisheries-dept.-appeals-for-calm/article14630632.ece

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