Thiruvananthapuram | In view of concerns about rapid depletion of marine fish stock, Kerala government is mulling a ban on the catch of juvenile fishes of 58 more varieties off the state’s coast, as recommended by a central fisheries institute.
Fisheries Minister J Mercykutty today told the state Assembly that a ban had already been in place for the catch of juveniles of 14 fish varieties in state waters.
The government was viewing the conservation of fish stock as a serious matter, she said replying to the notice seeking an adjournment motion on the threat faced by traditional fishermen from outside state mechanised boat operators and the indiscriminate catch of juvenile fish off state coasts.
“The Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute has recommended for the banning of the catch of juveniles of 58 more varieties of fishes. A decision in this regard will be taken soon. If necessary, the government will issue an ordinance in this regard,” she said.
Detailing various steps taken by the LDF government to address the issues of state fisher folk, the minister said an expert committee, comprised by Fisheries Director as chairman and CMFRI experts as members, was formed.
Steps would be taken to bring necessary changes in the Kerala Marine Fishing Regulation Act based on the recommendations of the expert panel, she said.
“The committee will also examine various issues including the unscientific fishing practices, the number and size of fishing boats and the size of fishing nets,” she said.
The Minister said a joint meeting of boat owners and fishermen would be held on November 17 to discuss problems faced by the sector.
However, the she dismissed the Opposition allegation that frequent tension occurred between the state’s traditional fishermen and mechanised boat operators in the outer sea over indiscriminate catching of juvenile fish using banned pelagic trawl nets.
She also said as the condition of the fish stock was seemed to have improved in this October-November months, there was no need to declare special distress package for fisher folk.
Seeking notice for an adjournment motion over the issue, Hibi Eden said government should declare moratorium on loans taken by fishermen and announce a distress package for them in view of hardships faced by the community due to dwindling fish stock.
He also demanded distribution of free rice for all fishermen in the state after including them in the Below Poverty Line list.
The member alleged that one of the major causes for the depletion of marine resources was the indiscriminate catch of juvenile fishes by mechanised vessels to supply to the fish manure factories in neighbouring states.