Maharashtra has become the third state after Kerala and Karnataka to come up with measures to curb illegal fishing. As part of the move, the Maharashtra fisheries department has asked the State government to notify Minimum Legal Size (MLS) for 58 commercially important fish species in the state.
MLS is the standard size at which a species can be legally caught and traded. Now Maharashtra does not have any measures to ban or regulate juvenile fishing. The Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute had last year submitted to the government a proposal to bring a curb on juvenile fishing.
The fisheries department is known to be submitting guidelines to the state government with respect to MLS and a notification in this respect is to come out shortly.
As part of the drive to curb the illegal catch of small fishes, the fisheries department in the state also proposes to have checks at sea and in harbours/ports or landing centres.
In the recommendations, the CMFRI has said that the entire catch can be considered to be violation of the law if 50 per cent of the catch is below the MLS. The institute has also recommended Vessel Monitoring System (VMS), Automatic Identification System (AIS) in fishing vessel and introduction of log books.
The Ministry of Fisheries has already issued a direction to all coastal states to modify their respective Marine Fishing Regulation Act so as to introduce the Minimum Legal Size to curb illegal juvenile fishing.
It has been said that juvenile fishing was being done on a large scale with the increased demand and also reduced fish wealth. Juveniles of high value species such as groupers and slow growing fish species like sharks have become a common sight at landings sites across the country.