By Anupama Vimal
Despite stringent laws against juvenile fishing, the practice is still in vogue across India with the fisheries sector suffering a huge loss due to this uncontrolled fishing method.
Juvenile fishing had always been a bone of contention and a majority of fishermen and their associations are against such fish catch, giving an alarm that it would bring down the fish wealth.
They point out that the officials in the fisheries department as well as marine enforcement are not taking stringent action against those who indulge in such activities. Noting that there are strict laws to ban juvenile fishing in the country, National Fish Workers Forum general secretary T peter said that everyone was of the demand that juvenile fishing should be banned in the country.
With respect to taking strong measures against those involved in juvenile fishing, he said that the government was not serious on the issue. “There are stringent laws against juvenile fishing. But the government is not implementing it in its true spirits,” he said.
Though the authorities are aware of the fish landing centres where juvenile fish catch are brought, the officials are not taking any interest in curbing these law breakers. Moreover, they do not frequently visit these places and look out for law breakers, he said.
Alleging that there was a big lobby behind juvenile fishing, Peter said that juvenile catch is used for making fish meal, poultry feed and fertilizers.
One suggestion that Peter puts forth is that all the state governments should strengthen the marine enforcement wing. “They should be provided with speed boats and necessary infrastructure so that they would be able to curtail such activities,” he said. Moreover, he also pointed out that heavy fine should be imposed and the license of the person who is caught a second time doing such a thing should be cancelled.
He also mentioned that nets with small mesh should be prohibited. “Diamond shaped mesh is frequently used now. But if the net having square mesh is used, it would be more advantageous that small fishes can easily sweep through the net. The government has come up with net measurements but it has not been implemented strictly,” he said.
Stating that juvenile fishing was banned in many countries, he said that it was still going on in India. “If this unscientific practise is not stopped, then we would loss our fish wealth,” he said.
Meanwhile Matsya Thozhilali Aikya Vedi president Charles George said Juvenile fishing will lead to economic loss, affect traditional fishermen and also lead to depletion of fish. He also noted that a decision was taken in 2016 that no inboard canoes would catch juvenile fish. Later boat owners also decided not to go for juvenile fishing. Despite all these, he alleged that boats still violate the laws.
Noting that juvenile fishing takes part mostly at times of drought season that is from November to June, he said “as part of a collective decision, we are not catching juvenile fishes. But during the time of drought, the fishermen are really having a miserable time.
“And once the fishermen are given compensation for the sufferings during this time, we would be able to stop juvenile fishing. The traditional fishermen have brought in self regulation of having decided not to catch juvenile fish. As such we have given a proposal to the government for bringing in a famine package for fishermen during this time. Despite three years, the government has not yet looked into it,” he said.
Apart from this, he opined that the government should strictly enforce the rules and strengthen the Marine Enforcement wing.
Jhony, a traditional fisherman from Vizhinjam, said that the government had not taken any stern action against such activities. “No official is taking any action and the law is not being enforced,” he said. Williams, a fishworker from Tamil Nadu was also of the same opinion. However, he said that it was at times of scarcity that fishermen catch such fishes. But he said that once the laws are strictly implemented, then this illegal catch could be stopped.
Kadapuram News Service