Even as the Coast Guard deployed five ships to contain the oil spill off the Mumbai coast after Saturday’s collision between two merchant vessels, fishermen have raised fears that it could affect the fish catch this season.
Rambhau Patil, general secretary of the National Fish Forum (the apex body of fishermen’s federations in India), told HT that the immediate danger was to pelagic life — fish and other organisms living at the surface of the ocean. If the spill was not contained or cleaned up soon, deepwater marine life would also be hit, he added.
July-August is when the hatchlings are feeding after the breeding season and the spill could prove fatal. The tides are strongest at this time of the year and the sea off Versova, Madh, Dahanu, Alibaug, Murud and Janjira could be hit, Patil said.
He wanted the existing ban on trawling during the monsoon to be effectively implemented to prevent contaminated fish being sold in the market.
The Yellow gate police on Sunday booked the captains, of the two merchant ships that collided, under various sections of the Indian Penal Code and the Environment Protection Act.
The Defence PRO Captain M. Nambiar said containing the thick oil slick around MSC Chitra was hampered by the weather and the tides.
Mumbai Port Trust chairman Rahul Asthana said the spill was not major but admitted that the position of the MSC Chitra was 'dangerous'. The tugs of the port were kept ready to prevent it from drifting towards the main shipping lane and blocking it. The other vessel involved in the collision, mv Khalijia-3, was also involved in a similar mishap on July 18.