Kerala monsoon trawling ban: Mechanised boat owners seek exemption this year

V Sajeev Kumar | Updated on May 21, 2020

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Thousands of boats unable to resume operations fully even after lockdown relaxation

Kochi, May 21

The Kerala Government’s decision to impose the annual monsoon trawling ban from June 9 has raked up a controversy among the fishing community, with mechanised boat owners opposing the move in view of the fishing holidays during the lockdown period.

Seeking a one-time exemption for trawling this year, they said thousands of boats in the mechanised sector have been lying idle after the lockdown was imposed on March 25 and these vessels could not fully resume operations even after the government come out with the relaxation.

However, the State Fisheries Department is going ahead with the ban with effect from June 9 midnight, asking fishing boats operating from other States to leave the region. The 52-day ban was planned considering the fish breeding season and helps to fill up the marine fishery resources.

Exemption will help

Joseph Xavier Kalapurackal, general secretary of the All Kerala Fishing Boat Operators Association, told BusinessLine that the 50-day fishing ban due to Covid lockdown was a great impetus in the propagation of fish variety. The already filled coffers of the deep seas will further get filled if the trawling ban during June and July was imposed. Foreign fishing vessels with sophisticated technology, especially that of China, would target the fishery resources of Indian seawaters in the ban period, he said.

Because of the lockdown, many segments in the fisheries sector are facing a huge crisis and an exemption this year would help revive the sector, he said, adding that the relaxation for deep sea fishing in the lockdown period has not yielded the desired results on account of the limited fishing hours for venturing into the seas.

“When our economy is striving to recover, a further imposition of a fishing ban during June and July is suicidal. On an experimental basis, until a detailed study of the scientific community comes up as to the benefits of monsoon ban and its ill effect, the fishing ban may not be imposed this year”, he said.

Conservation measure

However, the traditional fishermen community is not in favour of any relaxation to the mechansied sector, saying that many nations in the world have enforced seasonal ban as a conservation measure.

Quoting studies, Charles George, president of Kerala Matsya Thozhilali Aikya Vedi, pointed out that the imposition of such a ban dates back centuries and the closure period ranges from 45 days in the US to nine months in New Zealand. But in most cases, the duration is two months, which seems to be necessary for the rejuvenation of fish stock, especially shrimp varieties.

The seafood export sector is witnessing a huge shortage, especially varieties such as squid, octopus, cuttlefish, deep sea shrimp, etc, due to the Covid ban and the situation may further aggravate once the trawling ban comes into effect by next month, said a seafood exporter.

Published on May 21, 2020

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