MUMBAI: Fishermen from across Maharashtra who played a role in their own way in helping protect the marine species have to date been paid over Rs 40 lakh as compensation for cutting their nets to release protected marine species stuck in their nets. Since December 2018 when the scheme was first launched, a total of 253 fishermen have been paid compensation by the Maharashtra State Mangrove Cell.
Of the total 40.48 lakhs compensation paid by Maharashtra State Mangrove Cell to the fishermen, the highest compensation has been paid for fishermen who protected - 138 Olive Ridley Turtle (18.21 lakhs) , 67 Green Sea Turtle (10.79 lakhs) and 37 Whale Shark (8.54 lakhs).
The scheme was launched on December 21, 2018, by the State Forest Department and State Fisheries Department of Maharashtra to conserve the endangered marine species and ensure the fishing community’s participation in the process. The incentives were announced to ensure that fishermen come forward to save the marine animals who get entangled in their nets and can get compensation for the broken nets that they cut to save the marine animals. The scheme was based on the Gujarat model where the forest department compensates fishermen for rescuing whales.
Under this scheme, in the month of December alone applications from 38 fishermen of Palghar and Thane districts for compensation for cutting their fishing nets in order to release marine animal species which are protected under the Wildlife (Protection) Act were received by the Mangrove cell. Last week these cases were investigated by the Mangrove Cell and a compensatory amount of Rs. 5.35 lakh was released to the fishermen. The 38 cases included -- 26 Olive Ridley turtles, six Whale sharks, two Guitar fishes, one Green Sea turtle, one Hawksbill turtle and 1 Finless Porpoise have been rescued and released by the fishermen.
Overall, in the current financial year (2021-2022), a total of 86 cases from Palghar, Mumbai, Thane, Raigad, Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg districts were processed by the Mangrove Cell and Rs. 11.52 lakh were released to the fishermen.
Since December 2018 to date, a total of 264 cases/claims were received of which 253 fishermen have been compensated for safely releasing the protected animals into the sea by cutting their nets and a total compensation amount of Rs. 40.78 lakh was been released to fishermen to date.
"The scheme is gradually turning out to be helpful for both the fishermen who are participating in the process and also to us. For us, it has become like an unofficial survey of sorts that we can study and make a record of. The claims and cases that we are receiving from the fishermen are providing us with data about the presence of marine species in a particular area," Additional Principal Chief Conservator of forests (APCCF), mangrove cell told the Free Press Journal.