The recently introduced bill gives the Centre the rights to withhold or deny licenses.
Mumbai: The fishing community is at loggerheads with the state over the recently introduced draft Marine Fisheries (Regulation and Management) Bill, 2019. The bill entails giving rights to the Centre to provide licences to fishing boats between 12 and 200 nautical miles (nm) while regulating their movement.
According to local fishermen, the state fisheries department at a recent meeting was adamant that these rights be given to the state as well which irked fishermen.
The fishermen claimed that the state’s apathy and inaction had led to the loss of potential fishing grounds in Maharashtra’s waters, which had now been usurped by fishing boats of neighbouring states. The fishermen demanded uniform conduct across all marine states.
Presently, the Maharashtra government has the rights to provide licences to fishing boats within 12nm of sea. The recently introduced bill gives the Centre the rights to withhold or deny licenses to fishing boats on grounds of safety, vessel condition, fishing methods and national security, among others. At the recently held meeting, the state fisheries department wrote in the suggestions in these sections that “an officer of the state government should also have the rights”.
Ganesh Nakhawa, president, Purse Seine Net Fishermen Welfare Association, who was present at the meeting, said, “The state is trying to intervene in the proposed fishing regulation by the centre, which we do not approve, it will lead to more monopoly and corruption. The state's policies have not benefitted us and the fish landings here have rather reduced. Maharashtra has slipped to fifth position in 2018 among marine states, despite maximum coastline.Through this bill, there will be balanced fishing across states and the threat of fishing by external trawlers like Chinese trawlers in Indian waters will be curbed.”
Ashok Sarang, a fisherman from Malvan said, “The state has given less number of licences to purse seine net fishing boats. This has resulted in greater fish catch from the deep sea by fishermen of neighbouring states like Gujarat. We request that the Centre provide an equal number of licences to each fishing boat type i.e. purse seine net, gill net and bottom trawlers. Also that it be uniform in all states.”
The CMFRI also stated that there will be regulation by the Centre to curb overfishing, especially that of juvenile fish. “Presently there is no common regulating body to manage and regulate the fishing beyond 12km miles. Bill has provision to regulate and monitor fishing across the states and to curb IUU (Illegal Unregulated and Unreported) fishing,” said Ajay Nakhwa, CMFRI scientist.