Gandhinagar, Mar 21 (PTI) Days after ten fishermen from other states were nabbed for allegedly poaching dolphins and sharks off the Gujarat coast, the state Forest Department has decided to conduct regular patrolling in the coastal waters.
It will be done in coordination with the Indian Coast Guard, Marine Police and Customs, Forest Minister Mulubhai Bera told the Legislative Assembly on Tuesday.
Under rule 116 of the Assembly which deals with matters of “urgent public importance”, Congress MLA Arjun Modhwadia sought to know what steps the state government was taking to save sharks and dolphins which are endangered species under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
In his reply, minister Bera said ten fishermen — five hailing from Tamil Nadu, two each from Kerala and Assam and one from Odisha — were held on March 15 off the coast of Porbandar, and the carcasses of 22 dolphins and four bull sharks were seized from their boat.
“On February 26, these fishermen left the Kochi port in Kerala in their boat `Dayanas-2′, registered in Tamil Nadu. Acting on a tip-off, Gujarat Forest department, in coordination with the Coast Guard and local police, intercepted the boat nearly 12 nautical miles off Porbandar on March 15 and found dolphins and sharks in the boat,” he said.
The fishermen were arrested and currently all of them are in judicial custody, the minister added.
While fishing of these species is prohibited under law, Bera said Gujarat fishermen voluntarily avoid catching dolphins and other protected marine species.
“If Gujarat fishermen catch a dolphin by mistake, they cut off the net to release it. We also provide financial assistance of up to Rs 25,000 to fishermen for the loss of net. This is for the first time such poaching has taken place off Gujarat coast,” said Bera.
“The Forest Department is now planning to conduct regular patrolling near the coast in coordination with the Coast Guard, Marine Police and Customs. To get information and tip-offs, we will also strengthen our ties with local fishermen,” the minister added. PTI PJT PD KRK KRK
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