38 fishermen get 5.35 lakh compensation for releasing protected species into sea

As many as 26 Olive Ridley turtles, six whale sharks, two guitarfish, one green sea turtle, one Hawksbill turtle and one finless porpoise were released into the sea after being inadvertently caught in fishing nets.
File image. Sea turtles are the most commonly affected species, with 138 Olive Ridleys having been caught-and-released in just over three years (AP)
File image. Sea turtles are the most commonly affected species, with 138 Olive Ridleys having been caught-and-released in just over three years (AP)
Published on Jan 19, 2022 07:47 PM IST
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Mumbai The state forest department has paid 5.35 lakh to 38 fishermen from Thane and Palghar districts in compensation for releasing protected marine species back into the sea. The pending claims were resolved last week during a meeting between the forest department’s mangrove cell and the fisheries department.

As many as 26 Olive Ridley turtles, six whale sharks, two guitarfish, one green sea turtle, one Hawksbill turtle and one finless porpoise were released into the sea after being inadvertently caught in fishing nets. The fresh addition takes total compensation claims during the current financial year (2021-22) to 86 cases, pushing the amount to 11,52,500.

The scheme, jointly launched by the forest and fisheries department in December 2018, seeks to compensate fisherfolk for a loss of fishing nets and encourage them to release protected species caught inadvertently. Since its inception, 264 compensation claims have been received by the state government and 40,78,050 has been disbursed to 253 fishermen.

Sea turtles are the most commonly affected species, with 138 Olive Ridleys having been caught-and-released in just over three years, followed by 67 green sea turtles, five hawksbill turtles and two leatherback turtles. At least 30 lakh has been paid in compensation for the release of turtles alone.

This is followed by 37 whale sharks, whose release was compensated with 8,54,700, followed by six giant guitarfish, one Indian Ocean humpback dolphin and one Indo-Pacific finless porpoise.

A similar scheme in Gujarat offers compensation for the release of whale sharks, but Maharashtra is the only state at present that compensates fishers for the loss of all protected marine species.

As per the compensation scheme, if any fisherman finds a protected marine animal caught in their nets, they are entitled to compensation of up to 25,000 if they release the animal and their fishing gear is damaged in the process.

All applicants have to submit video graphic and photographic evidence of the incident, along with the GPS coordinates of where the animal was caught and released along with details of their boat license.

In January this year, the state government revised the compensation structure of the scheme, and fisherfolk are now reimbursed based on the size and degree of protection according to the animal under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.

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