A seven-member committee, headed by P. Sahadevan, former additional director of fisheries, will study and submit a report on methods to resolve issues pertaining to safety at sea, coastal security and vessel monitoring systems and illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing
Increasing instances of fishing-related accidents at sea, particularly during the monsoons, and problems related to coastal security and illegal and unregulated fishing have prompted the State Fisheries Department to seek viable long-term solutions.
The department has constituted a seven-member committee headed by P. Sahadevan, former additional director of fisheries, to study and submit a report on methods to resolve issues pertaining to safety at sea, coastal security and vessel monitoring systems (VMS) and illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. The committee will analyse the ”latest trends and internationally available options” as a part of its study, the department said.
”The committee has already met twice and we expect to submit the report within a month,” Anil Kumar S., deputy director of fisheries, Kerala, who is a committee member, said.
The committee also includes the Superintendent of Police (Marine Enforcement); Registrar, Kerala University of Fisheries and Ocean Studies (KUFOS); the joint executive director, Agency For Development of Aquaculture (ADAK); and the joint director and assistant directors (projects) of the Fisheries Department.
Safety has become a matter of overriding concern with overfishing in the territorial waters prompting fishers to venture into the deep-sea regions. While it is essential to equip fishing vessels with sea safety equipment, fishermen seldom take it seriously, the Fisheries Department noted in a June 11 order constituting the panel.
“Presently, only fishing boats owned by entrepreneurs are equipped with electronic safety aids. The incidents of fishermen going astray across the ocean, pulled away by strong currents and landing in neighbouring coastal countries like Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan are not rare,” according to the department.
Further, a porous coastline poses a threat from the perspective of national security. ”The current discourse is to consider the vast coastline as a ‘border’ that needs to be protected as well as the land-locked frontiers. If such ‘broken windows’ continue to be unfixed, it would possibly be used by terrorists to mount symbolic attacks against nation’s assets in peninsular India, including Kerala. An effective vessel monitoring and surveillance system in the State would help to resolve the issue to a fair extent,” the department noted.
IUU fishing thrives when the State lacks the capability to effectively monitor and control such activities. Moreover, such practices rob bona fide fishers, especially traditional fishermen, of marine resources, it observed.
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