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Changes in Inland Fishery Bill Sought

KERALA, INDIA - The Bangalore-based Asoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment has said that the Kerala Inland Fishery Bill should lay emphasis on protection of the habitat and measures to increase fish resources.

In suggestions submitted to Fisheries Minister S. Sarma on the basis of a workshop conducted by the organisation recently, it said the current emphasis of the Bill was on regulation and policing.

According to The Hindu, the trust said the section dealing with aquaculture should stress against culture and distribution of exotics species. Provisions to ensure this should be included in clauses dealing with inspection of seedlings and certification.

Public water bodies should be listed and a provision incorporated for their demarcation through contour mapping. In addition to the proposed ban on capturing small fishes, collection of ‘Mallikakka' and export of indigenous fish should be banned. The ban on use of explosives and poisonous ‘nanju' should be extended to aquaculture farms, if it was to be effective.

Local committees with popular representation should have a say in registration and licensing. Fish sanctuaries should be redefined with ban on entry, residence and transfer and their management should be entrusted to local committees. The Bill should ensure local participation and protection of the livelihood of traditional fishermen.

The trust said the public consultation on the Bill, which is in the report stage, was inadequate. Several terms in the Bill needed to be either defined or redefined and clauses subjected to detailed scrutiny. Mussels should be included in the definition of fish. The absence of provisions for conservation of fish resources in the Ramsar sites, Ashtamudi, Vembanad and Sasthamcotta, was a drawback.

the Fish Site Editor

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