Mangaluru, Aug 08, 2017: In the absence of regulation, even the smallest aqua fauna, including fingerlings, are caught in fishnets across the country
Monsoon has become erratic, severely affecting marine fish breeding, the National Fish Workers’ Forum (NFWF) has urged the Union government to introduce uniform legislation to regulate the size of aqua fauna that can be caught.
For the present even the smallest aqua fauna, including fingerlings, are caught in fishnets across the vast coastline in the country, thereby threatening their growth, said Vasudeva Boloor, vice-president of the forum. He said developed countries have formulated policies on the size of mesh of fishnets so as to provide escape routes to fingerlings.
Small aqua fauna, including small fish, fingerlings and even fish eggs, are caught in fishing nets that have a tight mesh, with spans ranging from 25 mm to 35 mm. These, called bycatch, are considered a waste and are either thrown back into the sea, thereby polluting the marine system, or sold to fish meal factories, Mr. Boloor told The Hindu . It is a threat to fishermen themselves as they might not get catch in future.
Veerappa Gowda, DK director of Department of Fisheries, said there was no specific rule on the size of fish that can be caught during marine fishing.
However, orders are being issued periodically specifying regulations, including banning of purse-seine fishing within 10 km of the coastline, bull trawling and fishing using LED lights within territorial waters (12 nautical miles or 22.22 km).
While the department has been advising fishermen to use square type mesh for their nets, it has also approached the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI), Mangaluru, to suggest the best practice. Once the recommendations are received, the department will come out with specific rules, he told The Hindu .
Gowda also noted that the Centre could bring out broad guidelines and it is for State governments to frame rules as fish size varies from place to place.
Meanwhile, Maharashtra has banned purse-seine fishing within the territorial waters of its coast. Purse-seine nets can be spread over 500 sq. m to 1,000 sq. m, while in bull trawling, two or three such nets are joined and spread by two boats up to a very large area.