The Matsya Thozhilali Aikya Vedhi, an independent union of traditional fishermen, has said that the annual trawling ban is an important step towards conservation of fisheries resources.

The annual trawling ban comes into effect on June 9 and will be on till the midnight of July 31. During the period, around 3,800 trawling boats, 500 gillnet boats, and 140 purse seiner boats will stay away from the waters off the coast of Kerala.

While the State government has made arrangements to provide free ration supply during the ban period, it has not come forward to provide financial aid to the affected fishermen, said a press release from the Aikya Vedi here on Wednesday. A meeting of stakeholders called by the government decided to check identity cards strictly during the ban period.

A press statement from the fishermen’s union claimed that species such as oil sardines, which had virtually disappeared over the past 10 days, had reappeared. Fish landings in Kerala stood at 6.89 lakh tonnes in 2022. While oil sardine landings stood at 3.98 lakh tonnes in 2012, the volume dropped to 3,000 tonnes in 2021. The rise in oil sardine catch in 2012 was also marked by a rise in the volume of pelagic species such as Indian Mackerel.

The fishermen’s union rued the fact that government agencies had failed to take action against juvenile fishing during the pandemic when fishing came under severe restrictions. The union also claimed that trawling was a destructive fishing method across the globe. Trawling operations kill juveniles and affect ecological conditions suitable for fish growth.

The State first implemented the annual trawling ban in 1988. The number of days of the ban had varied in the past. While trawling ban is only one part of resource conservation, there should also be regulation of the traditional sector to ensure sustainability, the statement said.