Violation of fishing norms in Nicobar waters alleged

Report by: 
ROOPA LALL
Port Blair
16 May 2017

Sweeping restrictions imposed by the local government  notwithstanding, fishing in waters close to tribal reserve belts in the Nicobar and Nancowry groups of  islands continues unabated. According to sources, fishers from different parts of  these islands venture out for fishing in the tribal reserve areas depriving the natives of natural resources. The tribal community in the region, says reports, are in a state of huge unrest over infringement of their rights and are demanding action against the violators.
“Despite ban imposed by the government, fishing by outsiders has become rampant in the inland waters here. They even plunder with our fishing nets and other articles. The natives of the Nicobar and Nancowry group of islands are suffering due to the practice. Seizure of fishing vessels on some occasions appear to be a formality exercise as if to show that the administration is keeping an eye of such violations. But the fact is that such breach by private fishermen groups has become widespread in the past few months. The administration should take a strong note of the situation and take all violators to task,” said some residents of Nancowry.
The Director of Fisheries, Mr Chandrashekhar maintained that fishing within 5 kilometres around tribal reserve areas is strictly prohibited. Larger fishing vessels are allowed to operate only within 6 to 12 nautical miles, he said refuting reports of plunder of fishing nets of the tribal community. “Members from the Nicobari tribe use open den fishing method and that too for self consumption. As such plunder of fishing net does not arise at all. Strict action is being taken by the law enforcing agencies on report of violations, if any, reported from the population. Moreover, the district administration has granted permits to some fishermen in the region so that the requirements of non-tribal population including government servants posted in the region can be met,” said the Fisheries Director.