The draft fisheries policy approved by the Cabinet on Wednesday seeks to enhance fish production through scientific methods, double the income of fishworkers and introduce a participatory system of fisheries management.
The draft document stresses the need to ensure the right of fishermen to fix the price of the catch and sell it in the market. It also calls for better conservation and management of marine resources.
Fisheries Minister J. Mercykutty Amma said the government was planning to strengthen cooperative institutions to curb the exploitation of fishermen by middlemen. The policy includes provisions to enhance the insurance benefits for fishworkers.
The Minister said the government proposed to limit the number of fishing vessel licences for an individual and curb destructive methods of fishing. Boat building yards would be required to have registration.
The policy seeks to encourage deep sea fishing and create more artificial reefs as fish breeding centres. The Minister said the thrust of the policy was on making the fisheries sector environment- friendly.
Fisheries management would be made participatory with a three- tier system of management councils at the village, district and state level. The Government would also seek the support of other coastal states for the constitution of an inter state fisheries council.
The policy document outlines several measures for safety at sea. These include the constitution of a sea rescue squad, marine ambulance service and a system for monitoring the movement of fishing vessels. All fishing vessels would be required to carry navigation lights, signals, safety equipment and communication gadgets and only trained crew would be allowed to operate the boats.
The document highlights the need to promote responsible fisheries tourism and create protected areas for fisheries. It also calls for steps to promote inland fisheries, check pollution of water bodies and create more hatcheries. Aquatic animal health labs would be set up in all disticts and fish disease surveillance teams constituted.
The policy lays stress on promoting ornamental fish production.
The document proposes steps for improvement of basic infrastructure like toilets, drinking water supply, health centres in coastal villages.
The Minister said the Kerala University of Fisheries and Ocean Studies would be upgraded to international standards and the curriculum reworked to impart training in skills.