Fault-lines among State fishers come to the fore

While the Centre has issued an order limiting the uniform fishing ban to 47 days, the State's decision to stick to the earlier schedule has sparked another row in the sector.

The new order imposes the ban on all west coast States in fishing in the Indian Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) from June 15 to July 31, bringing down the number of days from 52 to 47 in Kerala. “But since the State can decide when to implement the ban on the territorial waters extending up to 12 nautical miles, there will be no change in Kerala. The annual monsoon ban in the State will begin on June 9 midnight and no trawler will be permitted to cross the territorial waters,” Fisheries Minister J. Mercykutty Amma told The Hindu.

The decision comes as a major blow to the mechanised sector, which was expecting an early lifting of the ban. Since the fishers in the sector had lost several working days during the pandemic leaving the industry in a standstill, they had suggested it as a remedial measure to revive the economy.

“While States such as Tamil Nadu has accepted the order, the State government’s stand comes as a huge disappointment for us. As per the new order, the ban period ends in Tamil Nadu on June 1, much ahead of the original schedule and our sea will be teeming with boats from other places. We are planning to approach the Chief Minister so that the government will reconsider the decision,” said Joseph Xavier Kalappurakkal, general secretary, All Kerala Fishing Boat Operators Association.

He said the measures introduced to augment and regenerate marine resources were just an eyewash with no scientific or logical base. “It’s a period when Kerala's large traditional fleet exploit the resources. They follow all unscientific methods and the nets they use weigh around 4,000 kg. There are traditional boats much bigger than boats in the mechanised sector and there is no point in preventing only trawlers in the name of conservation,” he said.

Meanwhile, National Fishworkers’ Forum (NFF) had already submitted a memorandum to the Centre demanding that the order be scrapped, reverting the fishing ban period to its standard 61-day period. Pointing out that the monsoon was the season for fish spawning, they argued that it was essential to protect the marine habitat during this period.

“Kerala has been a fore-runner in this field and this uniform fishing ban came into effect after several years of inter-sector and inter-State conflicts. Another reason for opting this season is the turbulent monsoon climate and concerns over sea safety. Moreover, it is a time when migrant labourers return to their native places and some States are still reeling under the impact of Amphan. Reducing the days of trawl ban will only protect the interests of the hugely exploitative mechanised sector,” said T. Peter, general secretary, NFF.

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Printable version | Jan 29, 2022 5:07:30 PM |

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