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HC asks Centre to pass order on plea on sea cucumber trade


Chennai : The Madras High Court has directed central government authorities to pass orders on a representation made by an association seeking a direction to revoke the ban on fishing and trade in sea cucumber (holothurians). Justice R Subbaiah, before whom the petition filed by Nagai Seafoods Catching Association, came up, directed the Union Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Department of Animal Husbandry Dairying and Fisheries, and Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, to pass suitable orders on the representation within a period of three months after allowing a personal hearing. The matter relates to the ban imposed in 2000 by the Centre on fishing and trade in sea cucumber. The petitioner alleged that although there was a notification imposing a ban on fishing and trade in sea cucumber, the Zoological Survey of India, which was commissioned to undertake studies on assessment of sea cucumber in Palk Bay and Gulf of Mannar, recommended alternative methods of conservation and a ban only on trawl fishing. The ZSI report suggested several alternative and scientific measures and recommendations for managing the sea cucumber population and did not recommend continuation of the ban, the petitioner claimed. The petitioner said that government not responding to the recommendations of ZSI, “which are in tune with recommendations of Food And Agricultural Organization of United Nations has not only resulted in the loss of livelihood to fishermen families but also adversely affected the marine ecosystem.” The petitioner claimed that the trade was prevalent in countries including Japan, Australia, China, USA, Egypt, Fiji, Philippines and Galapagos Island (Ecuador). “All these regions have experienced depletion of sea cucumber population at various times in the past as governments of these countries adopted various regulatory measures and scientific practices to conserve sea cucumber population.” The petitioner prayed that the representation may be considered within a stipulated period after affording a personal hearing.


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