A panel of experts has drafted a national-level action plan for sustainable development of marine fisheries. Aimed at implementing the Sustainable Development Goal-14 (SDG) of the United Nations in India, the experts from marine fisheries, forests, environment, ocean development, industry, fisher associations and coastal zone management also recommended, among others, licencing scheme to fishing gear and boat building yards too, according to a release here.
The action plan was formulated at a national workshop here on SDG-14 organised by Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI) and WWF-India as desired by NITI Aayog.
Formation of marine parks, community reserves and no-take zones is one of the major recommendations in the action plan. It also includes proposal to declare ecologically sensitive marine hotspots as biodiversity heritage sites.
The action plan includes recommendation for including marine literacy in school curriculum to create awareness on the importance of coastal and marine conservation.
Assessment of ecosystem services and socio-economic benefits of the marine ecosystem to be projected in future has also been mooted in the action plan with a demand for facilitating bio-prospecting of marine resources to increase their contribution to the GDP of the country.
In addition, a demand for imposing the Minimum Legal Size (MLS) restrictions on all the coastal States and UTs uniformly to avoid juvenile fishing has been included in the action plan.
Presently, the MLS has been notified only in Kerala.
It also includes an urgent call to finalise Ocean Regulation Management Act to bring uniformity in fishing in Exclusive Economic Zone with common rules and specifications.
In order to regulate illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, suggestion for implementing vessel monitoring and surveillance (VMS) system by all the coastal states has also been included in the action plan.
Another major component in the action plan is a proposal for restricting the fishing rights in the sea exclusively for the fishing community dwelling in the coastal villages and protecting them by creating employment opportunities and income generating avenues such as crab fattening and ecotourism in mangrove belts for the successful execution of the conservation programme.
The panellists also demanded getting free prior informed consent of the fishing community prior to implementing any development project in coastal belts.
Formation of District-Level Committees for monitoring CRZ violations and developing capacity building of the fishing community also has been mooted in the action plan.
Need for recognising the importance of women and their organisations is the other major proposal in the plan.