New Delhi: A legislation, which seeks to provide sustainable development of fisheries resources in exclusive economic zones, is set to be introduced in the ongoing Monsoon session of Parliament.
The Indian Marine Fisheries Bill, 2021, that repeals the Maritime Zones of India (Regulation of Fishing by Foreign Vessels) Act, 1981, is among the 15 bills listed for passage in the session.
Last week, Fisheries Minister Parshottam Rupala had held virtual meeting with different stakeholders on the proposed draft legislation, elicting their views and suggestions. Separately, the minister had an interaction with DMK MP from Thoothukudi, Tamil Nadu K Kanimozhi, during which she is understood to have raised objections to some of the provisions.
According to some media reports, she recommended lowering of penalties imposed on fisherman for violation of the provisions. The fishermen in Tamil Nadu have been demonstrating against the proposed legislation for over a week, describing it anti-farmer which would rob them of their livelihood. They have contended that the freedom to operate outside the territorial waters will be severely hampered.
The penalties proposed under Schedule II of the bill for Indian fishing vessels are too high for fishermen to bear. Since it is their livelihood, the higher penalty will impact them severely and, in some cases, it may force them to give up fishing. Hence, the penalties may be reduced to a lower amount, Kanimozhi is understood to have said.
The DMK MP further recommended that Centre must give powers to state governments to protect the rights of traditional fishing boats to fish in the territorial waters, EEZ and also the high seas
The Bill seeks to promote livelihoods of small-scale and artisanal fishers by ensuring on a focussed development of the fishing industry in the exclusive economic zone.
The passage of the legislation will enable India fulfil a key obligations of the United Nations Convention of the Law of Sea (UNCLOS) and World Trade Organization agreements to frame laws. India had ratified the UNCLOS in 1995.