Sunday 15 September 2019

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Economy | Fishing

Centre forced to decide on uniform fishing ban

 

The centre has been pushed into taking a decision over unimplemented policy to impose uniform fishing ban, at least along the west coast, as a result of a PIL filed here in Goa.

While maintaining its last year's order of banning fishing activity in Goan territory till 15 August, the local bench of Bombay high court has instructed the central ministry to file an affidavit in this regard as soon as possible.

The final hearing on the PIL is now fixed for 15 October, while also making it clear that the interim order of fishing ban till 15 August will continue in case if the case prolongs once again till the next season.

The central ministry for agriculture and fisheries is being roped into the hearing, based on a decision taken in September 1998 to have a uniform fishing ban period, at a meeting of the Southern Zonal Council of Fisheries held in Mangalore.

The union ministry had accordingly conveyed the decision to five states - Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka and Kerala - way back in May 1999 regarding the decision to follow the uniform ban from 10 June to 15 August.

At least three states among them - Goa, Maharashtra and Karnataka - had agreed to follow uniform ban at a two-day workshop on sustainable fishery management organised by the National Institute of Oceanography here in October last year.

But Maharashtra continues to follow its own date, till 15 August, while Karnataka still follows the old Goa pattern of banning fishing till 31 August. Goa however even passed a legislation, restricting the ban period till 24 July. But the governor did not assent to it.

Based on a cabinet decision taken in August later at the behest of the powerful mechanised trawlers' lobby, the state government had now pleaded to bring down the ban period to 31 July.

But the high court declined to agree, while accepting contention of Adv. Norma Alvares, the amicus curiae, that no new data is submitted by the authorities, on the basis of which the request could be considered.

On the contrary, the 'green' lawyer pointed out that the production of fish is gone up this year as a result of extending the ban till 15 August since the fish was not disturbed during its breeding and spawning period.

Meanwhile, the mechanised trawlers have once again entered the sea for fishing during the ban period by defying the court order. The authorities have not cancelled their licences and sealed the fishing jetties like last year, but the only effective step taken is to stop their diesel quota. The trawlers thus procure it through other sources and continue fishing.






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