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Syndication

Andrew Lewin discusses the issue of trawling and the challenges it poses for the government of India. Despite growing concerns about the negative impact of trawling on the environment, the Indian government has been slow to enforce bans on the practice. This is especially problematic as more countries are implementing bans within their exclusive economic zones, leading to Indian fishermen being caught for illegal fishing. The episode explores the historical push towards trawling in India and the need to transition away from this harmful practice.

Tune in to learn more about the impact of trawling and what can be done to protect the ocean.

Link to article: https://theprint.in/environment/whats-bottom-trawling-the-new-flashpoint-between-india-sri-lanka-and-why-its-still-rampant-in-india/1962236/

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Trawling is a widely used fishing method by commercial fishermen and fishing communities, but it is also highly destructive, causing significant harm to the ocean's health and biodiversity. This practice involves dragging a large net equipped with doors and a chain along the bottom of the ocean, capturing everything in its path.

One major concern with trawling is its impact on biodiversity. The scraping of the ocean floor destroys habitats like sponge reefs and soft coral reefs, which take a long time to regenerate. These habitats provide crucial shelter and food sources for many marine species. Additionally, trawling often results in high levels of bycatch, where non-target species and juvenile fish are caught and discarded. This disrupts ecosystem balance and leads to declines in vulnerable species populations.

The negative effects of trawling extend beyond the immediate area. This practice can release large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, contributing to climate change. It also disturbs sediment on the ocean floor, releasing stored carbon and contributing to ocean acidification.

Despite the known environmental impacts, trawling continues to be extensively practiced in many parts of the world, including India. In fact, over 52% of India's total fishing catch comes from trawl nets. While the government has implemented some measures, such as seasonal bans, enforcement of these regulations is often lacking. This is partly due to historical support for trawling as a major source of fish for the country.

To address the destructive nature of trawling, alternatives have been proposed. Increasing the mesh size of trawl nets allows juvenile fish and non-target species to escape, reducing bycatch. Efforts have also been made to transition fishermen to more sustainable fishing methods. For example, the Blue Revolution scheme in India aims to replace trawling boats with deep-sea fishing boats that use targeted methods like gill nets and tuna longlining, which do not damage the seabed.

In conclusion, trawling is a highly destructive fishing method that poses significant threats to the ocean's health and biodiversity. It destroys habitats, causes high levels of bycatch, and contributes to climate change and ocean acidification. Efforts to reduce the impact of trawling include increasing mesh sizes, implementing seasonal bans, and transitioning fishermen to more sustainable fishing methods. However, further action and enforcement are needed to protect the ocean from the harmful effects of trawling.

The government of India has historically supported trawling as a major source of fish for the country, despite increasing bans on trawling in other countries. According to the podcast episode, India has a long-standing push towards trawling as a means of bringing in fish for the country. This can be attributed to various factors, including the government's subsidies for mechanized trawlers, engines, and fuel since the 1950s. These subsidies have incentivized fishermen to engage in trawling as it is a more efficient method of fishing.

However, the episode highlights that trawling is facing increasing bans in many countries, including neighboring countries like Sri Lanka, Indonesia, and Madagascar. These bans are implemented due to the detrimental impacts of trawling on the environment, such as the destruction of bottom habitats and high levels of bycatch. Despite these bans, Indian fishermen continue to engage in trawling, leading to conflicts with other countries and arrests for illegal fishing.

The podcast episode suggests that the government's historical support for trawling and the economic obligations of fishermen contribute to the continued practice of trawling in India. Many fishermen have taken loans to purchase trawlers and are bound by economic obligations that force them to continue trawling to repay their debts and support their families. The bans on trawling in certain seasons and areas have not been effectively enforced, allowing fishermen to continue their operations.

To address the issue, the Indian government has started implementing measures to transition fishermen away from trawling. Programs like the Blue Revolution scheme and the Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana aim to replace trawling boats with deep-sea fishing boats that utilize targeted fishing methods like gill nets and tuna longlining. These methods do not involve bottom trawling and have fewer impacts on the seabed.

However, the transition away from trawling is a complex process that requires significant time, effort, and financial resources. With over 30,000 mechanized trawlers in India, it is challenging to buy out all the trawlers and provide alternative livelihood options for fishermen. Additionally, proper implementation of existing laws, surveillance mechanisms, and monitoring of trawling vessels are crucial to control illegal trawling activities.

In conclusion, despite increasing bans on trawling in other countries, the government of India has historically supported trawling as a major source of fish for the country. Economic obligations and the lack of effective enforcement of bans contribute to the continued practice of trawling by Indian fishermen. However, the government has initiated programs to transition fishermen away from trawling and towards more sustainable fishing methods. The transition process requires careful planning, financial support, and effective enforcement of regulations to ensure the conservation of marine ecosystems.

Indian fishermen continue to engage in trawling due to economic obligations and the lack of viable alternatives. Trawling has been a major source of income for many fishing communities in India, with 52% of India's total fishing catch coming from trawl nets. The government has historically supported trawling by offering subsidies for mechanized trawlers, engines, and fuel. This has made trawling an attractive option for fishermen, despite its destructive impact on the ocean's health.

However, efforts are being made to transition to more sustainable fishing practices. The Blue Revolution scheme by the Department of Fisheries and the Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana are two initiatives aimed at replacing trawling boats with deep-sea fishing boats. Deep-sea fishing involves techniques like gill nets and tuna longlining, which are targeted methods of fishing that do not touch the seabed. While these methods have their own challenges, they are considered less destructive compared to bottom trawling.

The government's initiatives have already resulted in the distribution of 800 deep-sea fishing boats to fishermen in Tamil Nadu. This transition is a step towards reducing the reliance on trawling and promoting more sustainable fishing practices. However, the cost of buying and maintaining trawling boats is a significant barrier for many fishermen. Loans and economic obligations force them to continue trawling, even if they want to explore alternative methods.

To address this issue, it is crucial to provide financial support and training to fishermen to help them transition away from trawling. Subsidies and buyout programs can assist fishermen in purchasing new boats and equipment for sustainable fishing practices. Additionally, training programs can educate fishermen on alternative fishing methods and sustainable aquaculture practices.

Enforcement of existing laws and regulations is also essential to control trawling. Surveillance mechanisms and monitoring of trawling vessels should be implemented to ensure compliance with bans and restrictions. International cooperation is also necessary to prevent fishermen from trespassing into other countries' exclusive economic zones and engaging in illegal trawling.

Overall, while the transition away from trawling may take time and effort, the government's initiatives and support from the fishing community are crucial steps towards promoting sustainable fishing practices in India. By providing viable alternatives and addressing economic obligations, it is possible to reduce the reliance on trawling and protect the health of the ocean.

Direct download: HTPTO_E1567_IndianTrawlers.mp3
Category:Fisheries -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

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