Madras HC: Improve the conditions of fishermen, educate, and organise the fishing sector


Madras High Court while hearing two pleas by fishermen association, asked the State and Centre to take solid steps for improving the conditions of fishermen across the state of Tamil Nadu. The bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy noted that the fisherman sector is in absolute disorganisation where most of the fishermen are not even registered.

The bench observed that the foremost task is to organise the sector, where most persons maybe illiterate and at the lowest rungs of the social order. The court also stressed upon educating the fishermen with respect to hygiene and presentation so that they not only improve their living conditions but also the conditions of the beach. The petitioner in second plea sought an order directing both, the State and the Centre to increase the quantum of unemployment benefits during the yearly 61-day period when they
are prohibited from venturing into the sea or indulging in any kind of fishing.

The State responded that it would look into it the amount of unemployment benefits granted yearly. The Court further observed that apart from the State, the Centre may also allocate an additional amount as they are prohibited for a significant period from practicing their only means of livelihood in pursuance to the central laws.

The Court noted that traditionally, fishermen wouldn’t catch younger or pregnant fishes but in recent times due to using certain types of nets, fishermen have indulged in indiscriminate fishing, obliterating that there are certain fishes that need to be protected and certain others which cannot be caught. The Court in pursuance of the same observed that State and Centre should take steps to
ascertain the census of people engaged in fishing, to curb the problem of over-fishing in future.

The Court also observed, “It is also necessary to ensure a degree of awareness being spread, hygienic and other conditions being imposed, apart from verifying the gauges and the kind of nets which are used for fishing”. Further, the Court also observed housing facilities and maintained that insurance and credit facilities need to be made available, first for educating the fishermen and then for organising the fishing sector in the State.

The Madras High Court disposed of the plea and held, “To look into the general plight of the fishermen, particularly during the 61-day period ban of fishing, to augment the allowance made available to every sea-fishing family during the period with a possible contribution from the Union in such regard”.

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