Sun, 05 Feb 2023

New Delhi [India], January 24 (ANI): The Supreme Court on Tuesday allowed the use of purse seine nets for fishing beyond the territorial waters of Tamil Nadu but within the Exclusive Economic Zone with certain conditions.

A bench of Justices AS Bopanna and Hima Kohli ordered that only registered fishing vessels will be given permission to do purse seine fishing.

The Fisheries Department will give permission to such boats only, which are installed with an approved Vessel Tracking System (VTS), which shall be kept running during the operating time of vessels, ordered the top court.

For one, purse seine fishing would be allowed only twice a week, on Monday and Thursday, that too between 8 am and 6 pm the same day, it added.

"These vessels will be allowed to operate only twice a week i.e., on Monday and Thursday of each week with the other restrictions of the nonfishing period applying as is applicable to all other fishing activity. The vessels which will be given this permission shall leave the coastline on or after 8 AM and shall return to the designated place positively by 6 PM on the same day," the apex court stated in its interim order.

Tracking devices should be installed in these boats, said the bench, adding that it shall be mandatory for all the sailors to keep their biometric card/photo ID with them.

The fisheries department of the State shall also give a colour code to these purse seine fishing boats, the apex court said.

The registration number of these vessels shall be prominently displayed on the boat, the court ordered.

The order of the top court came on a plea seeking an interim stay on the Tamil Nadu government's order banning the use of purse seine nets for fishing.

The plea was filed against the February 17, 2022 order passed by the Tamil Nadu government banning the use of purse seine nets for fishing.

The petitioners in the apex court submitted that the fishing is only a three-month season and the ban has affected around 15 lakh fishermen in Tamil Nadu.

The state government's ban was "arbitrary and was contrary" to the central government's policy, said the plea filed by some Tamil Nadu residents who are fishing.

"The State had passed the law without considering the expert committee and the fishermen and that as a result of this 15 lakh people had lost their job. Most of the fishermen are from weaken society and their family members are starving. All export units have been closed by the State of Tamil Nadu in an arbitrary manner," the plea stated.

The Madras High Court had held that there is no illegality or unconstitutionality in banning the use of purse seine nets for fishing in Tamil Nadu. (ANI)

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