Mumbai: Maharashtra’s Marine Biodiversity Conservation Foundation in a bid to encourage the release of trapped marine mammals that are rare and endangered and protected under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, is distributing waterproof pamphlets to the fishermen across the state.
The pamphlets have pictures and information of the protected marine creatures which they will have to carry on their boats, while they venture into the sea for fishing.
The officials believe that due to lack of awareness several fishermen are found to be unaware about the protected status of any fishes, which results in fishermen accidentally netting these fishes.
“We cannot take legal action or send them in jail prior to creating awareness. Only if its found that they are doing it knowingly, action can be taken,” said the official.
Under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 if anyone found catching protected creatures can be sent to prison for up to six years or a fine of Rs 25,000 can be imposed on them.
The official informed, “Instead of taking action we are trying to provide them an incentive. If in a fisherman’s net the protected fish is trapped and for its release they are required to cut the fishing net then they can be compensated up to Rs 25,000.
Photographs or a video of releasing the marine mammal back into the sea is required as an evidence. The money is transferred directly into their accounts.”
According to the latest data, two fishermen have already been given Rs 25,000 for releasing the turtles back into the sea. Other eight fishermen have also applied for compensation for cutting their fishing net from across the state.
Interestingly, in order to make the compensation distribution process easier and faster and encourage more people to protect the endangered marine mammals, soon a mobile application (app) will be launched.
Officials stated, “The affected fishermen who incurred losses after he/ she released the rare marine creature back into the sea by cutting their nets can just post pictures or videos on the app, instead of going to the nearby fisheries department.
In the app they can fill in the details like their bank accounts, personal details, register number of their boat. The money will be transferred directly.” The Marine Biodiversity Conservation Foundation of the state has made a budgetary provision of Rs 25 lakh for only distribution of compensations.