Deep Sea Fishing

Critically comment on the issues related to implementation of government’s new deep-sea fishing policy based on the recommendations of the Meenakumari committee. (200 Words)

Fishing in india has been a traditional occupation and india has many communities of fishermen. The 12th FYP also suggested a renewed focus on this sector by modernization of fishing trawlers, introduction of mother vessels and upgrading cold storage facilities
Background: Murari committee report in the mid-1990s and the deep-sea fishing policy of 2004, though meant to revive this sector, actually led to its further decline. There was a sharp reduction in the number of large fishing vessels operating under joint ventures as a result of this policy. This left the bulk of the fishing resources of India’s vast exclusive economic zone (EEZ) either unexploited or underexploited. Also, there is, therefore, little scope for raising fish output in waters up to a depth of 200 metres.
What the repost says and the associated issues:
  1. Fishing vessels of length 15 m or more be allowed to operate in EEZ (between 22 km and 370 km beyond territorial waters) after getting a letter of permission from the centre. These ships can be owned or acquired by Indian entrepreneurs or by joint ventures with up to 49 per cent foreign investment. It can thus help boost deep water fishing. However, traditional fishermen fear that such fishing ventures will threaten their livelihood by encroaching into some of the areas, which are now within their reach.
  2. The report notes that productivity from the coastal zones has either plateaued or is on the decline due to over-exploitation. There is, therefore, little scope for raising fish output in waters up to a depth of 200 metres. However, waters beyond a 500-metre depth are not optimally tapped and, thus, offer considerable scope for augmenting fish output. This zone abounds in tuna and tuna-like species, which are in great demand globally. This could harm the marine ecology.
  3. Report notes that Indian fishing industry is ill equipped – both in terms of technology and finance. Thus resources remain untapped. So, it suggested that the Indian fishing companies should be encouraged to either get hold of larger and well-equipped fishing ships or form joint ventures with foreign companies. The inadequacy of Indian fishing activity in the EEZ has left the field open for poaching by foreign trawlers. This, however, may come at the cost of livelihood of local fishermen.
  4. The panel asks to create a buffer zone between the near-shore and offshore regions (between 200 metres and 500 metres in depth) to augment resources in the coastal as well as deep-sea regions. Though it is still unclear whether the buffer zone will be a “no-go” area or selective fishing will be allowed, fisher folks generally tend to view it as a denial of their right to operate in these waters.
Though India needs a “blue revolution” and modern technology, it should not come at the cost of livelihood of the traditional fishermen. A more comprehensive approach including all stakeholders and technological innovation funded by govt is needed.
Critically examine India‘s current deep-sea fishing policy and guidelines. (200 Words)
Deep-sea fishing begins at the end of the continental shelf and generally at an average sea depth of 200m. Expert Committee report headed by B Meenakumari by defining deep sea fishing as “fishing activities beyond 12 nautical miles from the coastline” acknowledging the distance rather than the depth of the sea. It further recognized fishing vessels of length above 15m as deep sea fishing vessel. This almost covers all the vessels  of the India.
It allows private investment in the deep sea fishing (enterprises with 49 % foreign equity can now operate in EEZ). This will increase competition and conflict with the traditional fishers as they use to do fishing beyond Territorial Sea (TS). Further they would require license for beyond 12 nautical miles. In that case, they would be depart from fishing in their TS.
To help breeding in monsoon a 60 days moratorium is placed on fishing in coastal areas from june to july. This has also been objected by fishermen as it will adversely affect their livelihood.



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