Supreme Court heard three writ petitions filed by Fisherman Care seeking to strike down subrule (7) of Rule 17 of Tamil Nadu Marine Fishing Regulation Rules, 2020, which banned the carrying of Purse Seine Fishing nets within its territorial waters. While hearing the case, the Supreme Court passed a restricting interim order by allowing purse seine fishing beyond the territory of Tamil Nadu but within the Exclusive Economic Zone with certain conditions. The case was presented before the two-judge bench including Justices A.S. Bopanna and Sudhanshu Dhulia.
Certain conditions will have to be followed for the same including obtaining permissions from the Fisheries Department and only the boats fitted with VTS (Vessel Tracking System) and registered would be permitted, these vessels are to be operated only twice a week between 8 AM to 6 PM. Along with this, the sailors should keep their biometric photo ID with them. During the hearing, one of the lawyers objected that the timings may vary on the basis of sea weather conditions to which the Court replied to come back as soon as possible to avoid consequences.
While addressing this case, the Supreme Court’s decision in the State of Kerala vs Joseph Antony was referred by the State in which a ban on purse seine fishing was imposed as it affected the livelihood of fishermen. Currently, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Kerala, and Odisha are the states where purse seine fishing was banned in territorial waters that are up to 12 nautical miles.
According to the State Government, this method of fishing is ‘pernicious’ and harmful to marine life. They also contended that this method is a non-selective fishing technology that captures all kinds of fish including protected species. Petitioners argued that restrictions imposed by the state government in not allowing the carrying of these nets are illegal. They made a prayer for interim relief before the Supreme Court.