A large number of banned pair trawling fishing nets, which damage the marine ecosystem, were seized from mechanised boats of fishermen here Thursday, officials said. In a joint operation, officials of the Tamil Nadu Fisheries Department and the Indian Coast Guard seized the giant nets from 86 boats which were engaged in fishing in the Palk Strait off this island, Ramanathapuram Deputy Director of Fisheries E Kathavarayan said.
He said the Fisheries Department had been acting time and again and had slapped a fine of Rs 26 lakh in the last few months on fishermen who had used the banned nets. Action would be initiated against the owners of the 86 boats and fine imposed in the coming days, he added.
The pair trawling, known as “irattai madi” in local parlance, involved catching fish using the banned net with each end tied to two boats. “The pair trawling is used to net huge quantity of fish in a single catch by tying the net to two boats and had been banned for nearly two decades as it caused immense damage to fish wealth part of the larger marine ecology,” a senior fisheries official said in Chennai. This practise was also one of the reasons for the recurring action, including arrest, by the Sri Lankan Navy against Tamil Nadu fishermen.
The neighbouring country had been complaining that use of the banned fishing nets destroyed their fish species. It had charged the Indian fishermen with poaching even protected fish species. Kathavarayan said the banned fishing nets not only caused ‘severe’ damage to the fish population in the seas, but also resulted in pollution and contamination in fish food.
The official said the department did not have sufficient infrastructure to tackle the issue of fishermen violating norms and soon one boat would be procured to monitor the fishermen. He warned that in the future the boats would also be seized along with the fishing nets if the fishermen continued to violate the norms.