Purse seine fishing reveals faultlines in fisher community

An ongoing case in the Supreme Court to decide whether the ban imposed by various States on charanga fishing is justified or not has exposed the faults between the small, marginal and big fishermen as the Center and the States have also taken different sides. the subject

Net fishing, which is widespread along the west coast of India, uses a large vertical net to encircle dense shoals of pelagic or midwater fish in the open ocean, then draws the edges like tightening the strings of a purse seine. In some states, it is linked to concerns about declining stocks of sardines, mackerel, anchovies and small pelagic fish on the west coast.

Photo: fisheries.noaa.gov

Photo: fisheries.noaa.gov

The scientific community says that climate conditions, including the El Nino phenomenon, are responsible for the decline in catches of such fish over the past ten years. However, fishermen using traditional methods have blamed the rise of net fishing and fear that the availability of these small fish will further decline if the ban is lifted. Also, since the Center is in favor of lifting the ban, they have demanded that it publish the report of the expert committee on which its position is based.

One of the main concerns is the reduced availability of oil sardines, a favorite of fish eaters in Kerala. In 2021, Kerala recorded a catch of only 3,297 tonnes of sardines, compared to a catch of 3.9 lakh tonnes in 2012. While traditional fish workers blame the decline of sardines in Indian waters, those using big boats say it is a more scientific way of catching fish, especially from the first layer of the sea.

“Efficient and scientific”

“It is the best and most effective tool for catching small fish in the sea. The controversy against using this gear is due to jealousy in some quarters,” said Sunil Mohamed, former senior scientist at the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI). “On the east coast, this method was not used before. A boat using netting gear will be full of fish and this may have caused jealousy and anxiety, among other things, if this continues, the usefulness of the fish stock will end very soon.” Dr. Mohamed said the advantage of the netting method is that it does not exploit other species. , because the fish only focuses on the carrion.

Read also | Kerala Fisheries Minister warns against unscientific fishing

However, he added a note of caution, warning that without regulation, the concerns of traditional fish workers would not be addressed. “Of course, there should be regulations and it is up to the government to manage fishing boats and equipment. Automatic identification systems can be implemented to identify fishing vessels. They can only cause concern if they are used without any control. The number of boats sent to fish must be decided according to the availability of fish”, he said. When asked about the decline of the sardine population, he emphasized that it has nothing to do with a specific fishing gear. “It fell between 2014 and 2021. But in 2022, it has been revived. Fishing methods are similar all over the world, but regulation is important,” added Dr. Mohamed.

“Expert committee report released”

Trade unions working among fish workers requested the Center to release the report of the expert committee under which it was tasked to prepare an affidavit against the ban. “Among the fish workers there is no opinion on this matter. It is up to the government to make a decision about it. The Center is yet to disclose the details of the panel of experts on graft fishing,” said Charles George, general secretary of the Trade Union Center of India. “The concerns of the traditional fish workers need to be addressed and can only be addressed if the expert committee’s report is made available to the unions and State governments.” Pointing out that different states have different positions on the ban, he said that it is natural for fish workers, especially those who use traditional tools, to have problems with brass band users.

S. Prabhakaran, president of the National Fishermen’s Association, said his organization has been in favor of lifting the ban. “Instead of banning, the government should introduce some regulations. Those who do not use mechanized boats and those who use small boats have only five nautical miles to travel. But in the deep sea, fishing with draft fish should be allowed,” he said. “It is a scientific method used internationally. There should be enough debate. The community should be educated about this system. We are sure that a court ruling will help us find a solution,” he added. has

“Harmful to marine resources”

The governments of Kerala and Tamil Nadu have decided to file petitions in the Supreme Court on the issue. Kerala Fisheries Minister V. Abdurahiman said the hindu That the state would oppose the redfish fishery. “Fishing is a matter of the State and the marine fishing management plan in territorial waters is the work of the State. The zerka-zerka is a non-target fishing gear that catches all kinds of fish that get in the way of the net, including juveniles. Therefore, they are very harmful to marine resources”, he said.

Tamil Nadu State Fisheries Commissioner KS Palanisamy said the State would take a stand and also file an affidavit in the Supreme Court.

It is currently established in the territorial waters of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Puducherry, Odisha, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu and territorial waters up to 12 nautical miles in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. States like Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Karnataka, West Bengal have not imposed such a ban, while Maharashtra has issued some orders to regulate but not prohibit dog fishing in its territorial waters.

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