New Delhi: Rejecting Rahul Gandhi's charges, the Centre on Wednesday said the decision to extend the ban on fishing in high seas to 61 days from 47 days during monsoon was agreed upon by all coastal states except Kerala.
The Agriculture Ministry issued this statement on a day when Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi on his visit to Kerala attacked the Modi government's decision to extend the ban on trawling and declared that "mother sea" cannot be taken away from them.
The government also said that no foreign fishing vessel is allowed in Indian waters irrespective of ban periods.
The Union Agriculture Ministry said different fishing ban periods being adopted by different states were causing disputes as "boats of one state were entering into the waters of another state".
The ministry said therefore "it was decided that a uniform ban of 61 days will be applied in the area of the Indian EEZ (beyond 12 nautical miles to up to 200 nautical miles)."
"The above proposal was agreed to by all the coastal states/UTs except Kerala. However, it is also a fact that Kerala itself had previously applied a fishing ban of 61 days during 1988, and ban of 67 days during 2006 in its territorial waters," the statement added.
Fishermen in Kerala are on the warpath against the Centre's decision to extend trawling ban to 61 days to protect marine health and also certain provisions of the Meena Kumari report on deep sea fishing in coastal areas of the country.
The ministry also said that extension of the fishing ban period was based on the recommendation of a technical panel of scientists formed during the UPA Government.
The ministry said the charge that the central government is allowing foreign fishing ships is "completely untrue".
"No foreign fishing vessel is allowed in Indian waters irrespective of any ban period," it said.
The Ministry said that a committee constituted during the previous government had suggested allowing foreign vessels, which has not been considered by the present government.
In a meeting held on March 18, 2015 with the coastal State/UT governments, it was unanimously decided to have the same dates for commencement of fishing ban in the East and West Coast.
It was agreed during the meeting that in the East- coast states the ban will commence from April 15, while in the west-coast the fishing ban will be implemented from 1st June.
"During the meeting, all the coastal states/UTs (except Kerala) have given their consent for extending the period of fishing ban from 47 days to 61 days. However, Kerala was of the opinion to impose fishing ban of 47 days," the statement said.
However, within their territorial waters of 12 nautical miles, the states will decide their own fishing ban "period" and applicability of fishing ban on 'type of boats' as per their own convenience.