MUMBAI: The marine ecosystem is again under threat as fishing trawlers with LED machines and purse seine nets (dragnets) are creating havoc across the State's coastal strip.
Purse seine nets were banned because it not only catches regular fish, but also eggs and smaller fish, thus creating an imbalance of the fish population. Installation of LEDs in trawlers is also banned.
Worried fisherman threatened to launch an agitation to effectively implement the ban to save the marine environment and sought action against the Fisheries Department, which is allegedly hand-in-glove with trawler owners.
"The trawlers with LED machines installed are illegally working across Maharashtra's coastal line. The Central government has already instructed the Coast Guard not to allow their functioning. Despite clear directives to ban purse seine nets, the nets are still used. The Fisheries Department is not willing to take action against these trawlers," alleged Damodar Tandel, President, Maharashtra Macchhimar Kruti Samiti.
An LED unit is installed along with purse seine nets to fishing trawlers. The LED stream passes through under water, up to two kilometres and attracts fish toward its light. "Around 400-500 trawlers are working at collecting fish worth Rs 4 to 5 crore every day, endangering not only the business of smaller fisherfolk, but also harming the marine ecology," said Tandel.
In a meeting with Environment Minister Ramdas Kadam, Fisheries Minister Mahadev Jankar, officials from the departments and representatives of fisher folk from the State, it was decided to raid errant trawlers and initiate strict action against them. "We have directed officials to take strict actions against those who are flouting norms and to revoke their licences," said Jankar.