Developed nations are not bothered about marine resources

  • 14/01/1997

Why are fisherfolk vehemently opposed to foreign deep-sea fishing vessels?
There are 25,000 deep-sea fishing vessels all over the world. Many of these are now partially or totally idle because they have depleted marine resources worldwide.

How many of the 25,000 industrial fishing vessels are operating in India?
There are two categories: the licensed vessels and the poachers. Regarding the licensed ones, the government sometimes says there are 200 and at other times claims that there are only 40. In our opinion, there are 200 licensed ones and 200 poachers operating in Indian waters.

To what extent have fisheries got deplet ed worldwide?
The total catch in 1991 was 90 million tonnes (mt). By 1993-94, it came down to 81 mt. A 1995 Food and Agriculture Organization report clearly states that fishery resources are declining. One cannot calculate exact global figures since depletion is qualitatively specific to certain areas and is often not reflected in the quantum of catch, as the fishing of unexploited species compensates the loss in the output of traditional varieties.

How has the depletion of fish stocks affected fisherpeople? Are they losing their livelihood and switching over to new professions?
The 1993 Supreme Court (sc) judgement upholding the ban on bottom trawling and the use of purseine nets pointed out a pronounced 50 per cent decline in the catch of the traditional sector due to mechanisation. However, not all are in search of new jobs. They continue in their profession as they have no choice. But some have entered other fields. While women have taken up domestic work and nursing, some men have found fishing jobs in countries like Egypt.

How would you assess the environmental impact of the operation of large fishing vessels?
Industrial fishing vessels like bull trawlers are highly destructive. They scrape the seabed and destroy its vegetation. They also deplete marine stock by damaging eggs and small fish. The dumping of unwanted catch into the sea pollutes too.

How have green activists reacted around the world?
The very fact that several countries have banned large fishing vessels shows the pressure green activists have built up. They have successfully campaigned against environmentally-destructive fishing technologies and practices. For instance, the Peruvian anchovy was vanishing at an alarming rate in the '80s due to indiscriminate fishing. But once a ban on its fishing was imposed, stocks picked up.

Is opposing the industrial fishing fleet the fisherpersons' prerogative or the environmentalists' concern?
The depletion of marine resources seriously concerns both fisherpeople and those who care for sustainable technologies. Fishing in small vessels is sustainable fishing

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