Goa Fisheries Minister Avertano Furtado has written to all the coastal States including Maharashtra, Kerala, Karnataka and Gujarat, requesting for a joint meeting of all the Fisheries Ministers to arrive at a consensus on banning fishing by limiting the use of Light Emitting Diode (LED) lights and fish-light attractors (FLAs) up to 12 nautical miles. Talking to The Hindu on Sunday, Mr Furtado said that Goa had already implemented it and his Department had begun night patrolling along the coastal waters with the help of the police to ensure that use of LED lights and FLAs ban is strictly implemented. The Minister admitted that the Department had only one patrolling vessel and the staff was also inadequate. He said the department was in the process of procuring another vessel. There are seven coastal police stations which have been set up in Goa with the help of the Ministry of Home Affairs. Their help is sought in monitoring coastal fishing, he said. The issue was raised in the State Legislative Assembly during the recent brief budget session by Independent MLA Vijai Sardesai, who said that the use of these methods by some fishermen had led to the fear of a fish famine in the State. “Goa was once looked upon as an exporter of fish, but it is slowly becoming an importer. With FLAs and LED use, the situation will worsen, leading to fish famine, he had warned the government. The Minister said that the Kerala government had already banned the use of LEDs on trawlers. “The government has not granted permission to any fishing trawlers to install FLAs or LED and the concept is banned in Goa’s water, he added. Fishermen in Goa, led by Goa Ramponkaranchio Ekvot, the body representing traditional and small fishermen in the coastal State, fear that the fishing industry will face a shutdown if fishing boats are not prevented from using FLAs and LED for fishing in deep waters. Traditional fishermen and small boat owners say that the fishing industry will be doomed and die out completely within two years if the purse seine fishing boats are allowed to use LED lights for fishing. In fact, traditional fishermen petitioned the State government, demanding that the Center intervene and demand a ban on such methods of fishing across the country as not just Goan fishermen but others along the west coast of India also indulge in LED fishing, said a spokesperson of GRE, an affiliate of National Fish workers’ Forum. They have been pressurizing the State to work towards a consensus on this issue with coastal States. Goa has over 1,000 trawlers, of which around 300 are purse seine fishing boats. Of these purse seine boats, currently about 60 boats have installed LED lights for fishing, said sources in the State Fisheries Department, who are gearing up to patrol the Goa waters. Fishermen fear that the industry will face a shutdown if boats are not prevented from using FLAs and LED lights

2016, The Hindu