TN opposes two Central govt decisions on fishing
The Tamil Nadu government on Sunday opposed two decisions of the Central government regarding fishing, saying these could lead to “swamping” by foreign fishing vessels in India’s Exclusive Economic Zone and also increase the regulatory burden on domestic fishing fleets.
Chief Minister O Panneerselvam said the new Deep Sea Fishing Guidelines issued by the Department of Animal Husbandry Dairying and Fisheries, Ministry of Agriculture, on November 12, 2014, had changed the definition of ‘Deep Sea fishing Vessels’, reducing the Over All Length (OAL) to 15 metres instead of the OAL of 20 metres as per the original guidelines.
Further, the definition of ‘Operator’ has been expanded to include ‘joint-ventures’ with up to 49 per cent foreign equity, he told PM Narendra Modi in a letter. He said the procedure for engaging foreign crews has also been made easier with the removal of the requirement for prior clearance from the Central government.
Further, as per a Public Notice issued on November 28, 2014, by the same department, issuing Letters of Permission (LOP) has been expanded for Deep Sea Fishing Vessels to conduct fishing in the EEZ which will operate for all vessels with an OAL of 15 metres and above.
Thus, even the existing Indian coastal fishing vessels which are between an OAL of 15 and 20 metres will now be required to obtain LOP which was not required earlier, the Chief Minister said.
“These decisions could in effect lead to swamping by foreign fishing vessels in India’s Exclusive Economic Zone and also increase the regulatory burden on domestic fishing fleets,” he said. The new Guidelines will “adversely affect the local fishermen in Tamil Nadu because out of the 5,500 mechanised fishing boats more than 80 per cent are above 15 metres OAL and are engaged in near shore fishing just beyond the territorial waters of India,” he said.
Obtaining LOPs from the government and voyage clearances from Indian Coast Guard for each fishing voyage was ‘extremely impractical’, Panneerselvam said.
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