Sunday 15 September 2019

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Economy | Fishing

Guv returns bill, fishing continues

 

Fishing in troubled waters need not be troublesome all the time as being perceived, provided you know where to lay the net and how to gather guts to defy the law of the land…including the judiciary.

Thousands of fishermen have 'successfully' proved it, right under the nose of the chief minister, who is simply beating drums of taking action against the violators in spite of knowing that his 'silent consent' is contempt of the court.

The high court has banned any mechanised boat from fishing till 15 August. But over 1000 trawlers are already in the sea, defying the court, who passed an interim order in order to provide enough breeding and spawning time for various species of the fish.

The Marine Fishing Regulation (Amendment) Bill, 2000, which was unanimously passed by the Assembly - soon after the court order - by suspending all the rules, has also been returned by the governor without giving his assent, on the grounds that it contains some incorrect provisions.

The amendment bill not only legalises the reduced period of 54 days of fishing ban from 1 June to 24 July, but even bars any court from having jurisdiction over this amended provision, "notwithstanding anything contained in any law…and (also) notwithstanding the proceedings in any court."

"I don't bother whether it has become an act or not. The House is supreme and it has unanimously allowed us to enter the sea from 25 July", says opposition Congress legislator Churchill Alemao, a leading trawler owner himself. He thus feels it not at all necessary to obey the court orders.

"My advocate general is presently studying the matter. But I agree that the clause of barring the court from exercising its powers of review was not proper", says chief minister Francisco Sardinha. He also clarifies that the government does not intend to have any kind of confrontation with the court.

But he does not appear determined to implement the court order by stopping the trawlers from entering the sea. "We will see what action we can take", he says in a casual manner while also accepting suggestion that the coast guard could be taken help of.

Alemao told the journalists right in front of the chief minister that they would come on roads and turn Goa into Bihar if their trawlers were seized. Rather than reacting, Sardinha agreed with Alemao that the fishing ban only for mechanised boats, excluding traditional fishermen, is unjustified.

The National Institute of Oceanography has however recommended to the court that fishing by mechanised boats be banned from 1 June to 31 August as it is the breeding and spawning period for various species of the fish. The court hearing on a PIL in this regard has been fixed for 16 August, while passing an interim order.

Even Sardinha does not dispute the traditional custom of 90 day-ban from the day of arrival of monsoons where Hindus begin fishing from Narli Pournima and Catholics from the day of Feast of St Lawrence, which coincide with each other. The practice was discontinued in early '90s, resulting into fish famine in Goa.

Though the government had then issued a notification in February 1995 to strictly impose the ban till 31 August, the trawler lobby once again managed to get it reversed within five months, bringing down the period to 24 July. The lobby had now even managed to make it a law, but the governor as well as the court have stalled it.






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Fishing

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