EXCESSIVE and unregulated fishing at the Bay of Bengal is wreaking havoc on conservation of fish resources. The availability of some 15-20 commercially important fish species by now has significantly been depleted. It's happening because bottom trawling (trawling along the sea floor) goes on unchecked by any authority whatsoever. Let's not forget that, in addition to affecting fish resources, a large number of trawlers are likely to cause environment pollution.
According to Department of Fisheries (DoF) data there are currently 225 trawlers and 44,000 motorised and non-motorised boats engaged in catching fish. Many more vessels are suspected to be operating illegally. What's disturbing is that the number of motorised and non-motorised vessels keeps increasing by the year. What needs to be done at this stage is to bring all of these vessels and their operations under a common licensing and monitoring system. Some laws exist but only on paper.
This is happening since it's easy to obtain a temporary permit under the category of 'trial fishing.' Issuing of permits must be regulated. We fear that people who obtain temporary permit go beyond 'trial limits.' Trawlers of different categories should be assigned a fixed specified distance as well as depth for conducting fishing activities. We have to quantify our fish resources in the Bay for the purpose of feasible fishing consistent with breeding and growth cycles. Last but not least, for sustainable growth of fish the government should declare a zone of Bay of Bengal as Marine Protected Area (MPA), as it will help endangered fish species to breed without being caught.