Declare 10 nautical miles on either side of International Maritime Boundary Line as no-fishing zone
In the wake of the Kuber incident,the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) has asked the Gujarat government to declare 10 nautical miles on either sides of the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) between India and Pakistan a no-fishing zone (NFZ).
This,according to the Coast Guard,is required to stop Indian fishermen from deliberately trespassing into Pakistani waters for a better catch.
Coast Guard IG (West) Rajender Singh has written to the state Chief Secretary,the Director General of Police and the State Fisheries Commissioner that 10 nautical miles on either sides of the IMBL across Gujarat should be notified as a NFZ. Singh has also asked for strict enforcement of the NFZ by the concerned agencies.
The Coast Guard wants Gujarat to take other measures,like re-registration of all fishing boats and provision of smart cards as ID for all fishermen. It also wants the government to ensure that Indian fishing boats go out in groups.
Singh told Newsline from his Mumbai office that the Coast Guard has been forced to spend much of its time shepherding back Indian fishermen straying into Pakistani waters.
Indian fishermen intentionally crossing over the IMBL for a better catch is the main reason why our boats are apprehended by the Pakistani security agencies. This is why incidents like the hijacking of Kuber and the killing of its skipper Amarsinh Solanki occurred, he said said.
Referring to past instances where ICG ships have shepherded Indian fishing boats from as far as 35 nautical miles into Pakistani waters,he said: We started the year by bringing back 20 Indian fishing boats from Pakistan.
He added that they have asked for licences of all these boats to be cancelled as a warning for other boat owners who encourage or force their boats to fish in Pakistani waters.
According to Coast Guard records,a total of 855 Indian fishing boats were brought back by its ships last year.
A senior Coast Guard officer said: Our fishermen intentionally trespassing into Pakistani waters has become a major problem in the high sea. This occurs despite keeping a close watch. We have shepherded back over 3,000 Indian fishing boats and trawlers in the last two years.
Besides,numerous fish landing points have mushroomed along the 1,600 km-long Gujarat coastline. According to the Coast Guard,unlike Pakistan,fishing along the Gujarat coast is a major business. Due to a large number of fishing boats in operation,there is a scarcity of fish on the Indian side. This is why our fishermen keep crossing the IMBL, added an officer.