Daily Editorial Analysis for 17th February 2023

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Deep sea fish conservation must not go adrift


What is Purse seine fishing?

  • A purse seine is made of a long wall of netting framed with floatline and leadline (usually, of equal or longer length than the former) and having purse rings hanging from the lower edge of the gear, through which runs a purse line made from steel wire or rope which allow the pursing of the net.
  • In India’s western beaches, the method has been frequently used.

Purse seiners use in India

  • Permission to pursue: The Supreme Court of India granted permission to fishermen using purse seine fishing gear to fish outside territorial seas (12 nautical miles) and beyond Tamil Nadu’s Exclusive Economic Zone (200 nautical miles), subject to certain conditions.
  • Administration vs Conservation: The Court issued an interim injunction against the Tamil Nadu government’s prohibition on purse seine fishing in February 2022. SC was more concerned with administrative and transparency procedures to regulate fishing than with conservation measures and duties that a coastal state owes in its EEZ under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
  • Impact on livelihood: Purse seiners tend to overfish, unlike traditional fishermen using traditional fish gear, thus endangering the livelihood of the traditional fisher.

Conservation and conventions

Regulation of fishing methods

  • There are regional organizations that either prohibit the use of large drift nets such as the 1989 Tarawa Declaration of the South Pacific Forum.
  • The 1989 Convention for the Prohibition of Fishing with Long Drift Nets in the South Pacific restrict port access for drift net fishing vessels.
  • The United Nations General Assembly passed Resolutions 44/225 (1989) and 46/215 (1991) supported and strengthened this development, calling for a moratoria on all large-scale pelagic drift net fishing vessels in high seas.
  • These conventions and the UN General Assembly resolutions are applicable to the state parties in the high seas and are relevant in terms of preventing overfishing in general and the conservation of fishery management in the EEZ as well.


  • Despite the best conservation measures and regulation of fishing methods adopted by the authorities, it will be a challenge in dealing with the limitless character of the seas which renders a common resource such as fish available for exploitation by all.

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