Traditional fishermen in the state have given a one-month deadline to the fisheries department to implement ban on LED fishing and bull trawling failing which they have threatened to launch an agitation against the department.
Interacting with media persons after meeting Fisheries Minister Filipe Nery Rodrigues in Panaji, general secretary of ‘Goenchea Raponkarancho Ekvott’ Olencio Simoes said that rampant illegal fishing by trawlers has caused damage to the rivers and the sea and also adversely affected the livelihood of ramponkars – the traditional fishing community.
“Use of LED and bull trawling is finishing our traditional business. We will wait for one month and see what progress is made in implementation of the ban; else we will have no option but to organise a bigger agitation than that of 2016,” Simoes said.
It may be noted that in May 2016, hundreds of fishermen had blocked road at fisheries department and the river channels of Mandovi and Sal demanding a ban on LED fishing. When they had refused to clear the way, police had to resort to lathi-charge on the protesting fishermen.
Simoes questioned as to why the department has failed to implement the ban even after four years. He said it is because of illegal fishing that the prices of fish have increased. “If the government doesn’t take the required steps then we will have our own action,” he thundered.
Simoes alleged that department officers are ‘hand in glove’ with the fish mafias and added that it is because of a few handful of mafias that the fishing industry is on the verge of collapse.
Speaking to pressmen, the Fisheries Minister said that his department does not have the required resources to initiate action against the trawlers that are involved in illegal LED fishing and bull trawling.
“The traditional fishermen say that because of advanced technology in fishing, marine life will be finished. It will result in the worst time for the fisheries sector. As of today, my department is not capable, I am saying…with that mechanism…with those facilities, to seize the vessel and take control of illegal fishing,” Rodrigues said.
The minister said that director of fisheries Shamila Monteiro has been asked to collaborate with other agencies like coastal police, Coast guard and Captain of Ports department to implement the ban in real spirit.
“The crewmembers on vessels conceal the LEDs at the jetty points; we need to go and seize them. We need to go and search the vessels for which a mechanism will be worked out in the next 15 days. I have given direction to the director that if required, we can take experts on board. We will see that we maintain discipline in fishing activities,” Rodrigues said. He said that the department will target the ‘high-end trawlers’ that are alleged to be involved in illegal LED fishing and bull trawling.