‘Good Fishermen’ Protest Against ‘Bad Fishermen’ for Illegal Fishing at Night
Mangaluru: Even though a protest was held on Saturday 26 January near the office of Deputy Director of Fisheries by several trawl boat and country boat operators against the order against the order of the High Court of Karnataka allowing purse seine boat operators to do fishing during the night using lights beyond 12 nautical miles from the shore, once again union leaders of Gill Net Fishing Association and other fishing Organization gheraoed the office of Deputy Director of Fisheries on Tuesday 29 January. They also submitted a memorandum to Deputy Director of Fisheries Chikkaveera Naik and urged him to stop the fishing done by a few fishermen at night.
Addressing the gathering on the occasion, Ali Hussain, the President of Gill Net Fishermen Association said “An official memorandum was issued by the State government on August 29, 2016 setting forth conditions for using surface lights on boats. In 2017, this memorandum was withdrawn and a ban was imposed on fishing using lights and bull trawling. All boat operators have been following this order. .But following a petition by Akhila Karnataka Purse Seine Fishermen Sangha, the High Court had now allowed purse seine boat operators to use surface lights and do fishing using lights. It’s strange that such an order has been issued when there is ban on fishing using lights. This is total discrimination against us, who also are in the same fishing business”.
After receiving the memorandum from the protesters, Deputy Director of Fisheries Chikkaveera Naik said the department was now only following the orders of the High Court. Naik said he would convey to his higher-ups the opinion expressed by the trawl boat operators, and will necessary steps once he gets any intimation from higher authorities. But the protesters insisted that he gave in writing that he would proceed with such steps.
Sources reveal that High Court judge Alok Aradhe on January 21, 2019 allowed purse seine boat operators to use surface lights on their boats only if they submit an undertaking that they will use it only beyond 12 nautical miles. The judge also directed such boat operators to comply with conditions mentioned in the official memorandum dated August 29, 2016. But the other boat owners are totally against such move by the High Court. They have called for a mega public meeting on Wednesday, 30 January near the Dock area. Meantime, Mohammed, a trawl boat operator, said the ban on fishing using lights and bull trawling had helped country boat operators as they were getting good catch.
The ministry has requested the Coast Guard to take necessary steps to prevent the use of LED lights for fishing. In Dakshina Kannada, LED light fishing commenced five years ago. Traditional fishermen alleged that mechanized fishing vessels were violating the ban imposed by the government on fishing using artificial lights, which attracts fish during the night. The order will be binding on all fishing vessels and their supporting, supply and auxiliary vessels operating in the Indian EEZ. During this fishing, there are complaints that fingerlings or small fishes get caught, which results in the loss of fish resources for the next season.
The protesters alleged that some purse-seine boat fishermen have decided to venture into fishing using lights despite a ban on the same by the Government. The protesting fishermen also demanded that the fish netted by fishermen in purse-seine boats using this banned method should not be purchased. Fishermen also have warned a massive protest in the coming days, if no action is taken against the banned LED light fishing by the concerned authorities.