Wednesday 18 September 2019

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Economy | Fishing

Trawlers defy court ban for fishing

 

In what could be literally termed as 'fishing in troubled waters', over 1000 mechanised boats entered the sea today by defying the court order. The high court has banned fishing till 15 August, in order to provide enough breeding and spawning time for various species of the fish.

Probably because the 'illegal action' has blessings of the government, the fishing department officials simply sat down in their offices with their fingers crossed, which may in all probability amount to contempt of the court.

"We have entered as per the provisions of the Marine Fishing Regulation Act, 1980, which has been unanimously amended by the Assembly on last Friday", says Congress MLA Churchill Alemao, who as a trawler owner has taken initiative for this action.

Disagreeing with the government notification of reducing the fishing ban period from 90 to 54 days (up to 24 July), the high court had last week passed an interim order in this regard while fixing the hearing on 16 August on a PIL filed by a citzen.

The Assembly had then hurriedly amended the act in one sitting, even by suspending all the rules, to include the provision of the fishing ban from 1 June to 24 July. The legislators even went to the extent of barring the court from reviewing this particular provision. The bill is yet to be given assent by the governor.

Instead of immediately acting upon the illegal act of the fishermen to begin fishing from today, fisheries department is still awaiting legal advise from the advocate general on what steps could be taken.

"How can I stop mass scale fishing when there is only one petrol boat", asks U D Sardesai, the fisheries director. He also finds it fruitless since the act does not provide for more than Rs 1000 of fine for the offence of defying the ban.

"House is supreme. The court cannot do anything in this case", claims Alemao, the ex-chief minister, who does not even bother to wait till the governor gives assent to the bill and make it a proper law.

Under the pretext that no minister can talk when House is in session, fisheries minister Arecio D'Souza has conveniently avoided making any comments in this regard. As the bill was passed unanimously, no legislator is also raising the issue in the House.

"It amply proves that these legislators are meant to protect interest of these criminals", alleges Mathany Saldhana, general secretary of the All Goa Traditional Fishermen's Association. He is furious as the trawlers are already encroaching into the two km-area of the traditional fishermen, to take the catch of solar prawns.

The fishing ban in neighbouring Maharashtra lasts till 15 August while it is till 29 July in Karnataka. It is thus alleged that Goa's trawler owners also take this opportunity to enter into the territorial waters of these states to make more money at the cost of protection of marine ecology.

"Some or other species have a spawning period somewhere during the year. We should therefore find a via media to resolve the issue", feels the fisheries director. The National Institute of Oceanography, in its report submitted to the court, has however recommended total ban from 1 June to 31 August, which was existing prior to 1990.






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