Monsoon trawl ban to hit over 2,000 boats

KOCHI: The annual 47-day ban on fishing by trawl-fitted boats will take effect in Kerala’s territorial waters from the midnight of Monday (June 14-15), sending over 2,000 trawl boats into hibernation.

The ban will also be imposed along the entire Western Coast — Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa and Karnataka — simultaneously as the ban, started in Kerala nearly a quarter century ago, is now a national practice. It is aimed at facilitating the regeneration of fish stock. The restriction along the Eastern Coast is from April 15 to May 31. Of late, the Union government has imposed strict restrictions on boats fishing in India’s exclusive economic zone, extending over 200 nautical miles.

The curbs on fishing are only for boats as the Kerala government has exempted ‘valloms’ (canoes) used by traditional fishermen from the ban. They are free to catch pelagic fish such as oil sardine and mackerel in Kerala’s 22-km (12 nautical miles) territorial waters. There are about 2,200 trawl boats in Kerala. In peak seasons, about 1,000 boats from the Colachal area in Kanyakumari district in Tamil Nadu migrate to Kerala.

Though scientists say the curbs on fishing during the breeding season helps replenish the fish stocks, the All-Kerala Mechanised Boat Operators Association has for long held the view that it is “baseless, unscientific and emotion-based.” Joseph Xavier Kalappurackal, its leader, claimed that the curbs should have been imposed during the lean season not during the peak season.

This year’s ban comes at a time when fish prices rule very high. While up-end fish like seer fish fetch up to Rs.300 a kg, the common man’s fish of sardines are sold between Rs.40-60 and mackerel around Rs.100 a kg. Prawns, usually high-priced, fetch lower prices now.

Basheer From THE HINDU

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