Fisherfolks seek separate ministry

The Federation of Indian Fisheries Industries on Friday demanded a separate ministry for the fisheries sector at the Centre. The federation in a meet, attended by heads of fishermen associations of nine coastal states, said that their grievances have been grossly neglected by the powers at the Centre. They also said that foreign fishing vessels operating on Indian waters pose the greatest security threat to the nation.
Dr YJK Murthy, president of the association, said that Indian Government has issued permit letters to foreign vessels that not only sweeps the sea clean of fish but also the crew of the trawlers are foreigners and have no work permits here. Each vessel carries 35-40 people and there are 75 registered and hundreds of unregistered vessels out at sea. The registration is done in India with forged documents. The vessels do not even have Unique Identification Number, he maintained.
The foreign fishing vessels, primarily registered in Taiwan, acquire permanent registration with the Mercantile Marine Department at different places in India, said Mr Murthy.
This dual membership is a crime under the Merchant Shipping Act, 1958, which states that ownership of vessels should be wholly Indian. These vessels are also violating the Maritime Zone of India (MZI) Act, 1981.
Each vessels carries a catch of 450 metric tons which is not declared to the Marine Products Export Development Authority and is directly supplied to an unregistered mother ship violating the Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA) Act. “We had requested the Agriculture Minister, Mr Sharad Pawar, to take heed of the situation and ban foreign vessels but he has not given any concrete answer,” said Mr Murthy.

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