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Editorials/Opinions Analysis For UPSC 18 February 2023


Editorials/Opinions Analysis For UPSC 18 February 2023


Contents

  1. Deep Sea Fish Conservation Cannot Sailing Away  
  2. From Above, ruling over the nation’s capital

Deep Sea Fish Conservation Cannot Sailing Away


Context

Under certain conditions, the Indian Supreme Court has permitted fishermen using purse seine gear to fish inside Tamil Nadu’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and beyond its territorial waters (12 nautical miles).

Relevance

GS Paper-2: Conservation, Environmental Pollution, and Degradation, Environmental Impact Assessment

Mains Question

What role can multilateral and regional conventions play in this regard? How can the conservation and sustainable management of fishery resources be accomplished while taking into account the difficulties posed by non-selective fishing technology and the need to regulate fishing methods? (250 Words)


What’s the problem?

  • The Court’s interim order, which prohibits the Tamil Nadu Government from banning purse seine fishing, appears to be more focused on administrative and transparency measures to regulate fishing than on the conservation measures and duties that a coastal state owes in its EEZ under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
  • The order should have taken into consideration conservation measures (as recommended by various regional conventions) and decisions made by various tribunals (incorporating conservation measures based on best science or pertinent scientific evidence to control overfishing and protect endangered marine living resources from extinction).
  • Unlike traditional fishermen who use traditional fishing equipment, purse seiners frequently overfish, endangering the traditional fisher’s means of subsistence.

What is fishing with purse seines?

  • A purse seine is a sizable wall of netting that is positioned all the way around a region or school of fish.
  • A lead line that has been woven through rings at the bottom of the seine allows it to float along the top line.
  • When a school of fish is found, a skiff surrounds it with its net. After that, the lead line is drawn in, “pursing” the net shut on the bottom to stop fish from swimming down to escape.

Conservations and Conventions

  • The top court should take cues from the obligations arising from the multilateral and regional conventions that are intended to implement sustainable fishing practises over a specific time period, allowing a common resource like fish to be replenished naturally.
    • UNCLOS: o According to UNCLOS Articles 56.1(a) and 56.1(b)(iii), coastal states have the sovereign right to control how the living and non-living resources of the EEZ are used, managed, and protected from overexploitation.
      • Foreign fleet access to the zone is also solely at the discretion of the coastal state and is governed by its laws and regulations.
      • To prevent overexploitation, coastal States must use the best available scientific data to determine the total allowable catch (TAC) in the EEZ.
    • The Southern Bluefin Tuna Conservation Convention of 1993 (SBT) is another source of guidance that the Court could have used to help fishing stocks that have been depleted.
      • From the perspective of the conservation of the overall fishery, the TAC and distribution of allocations among the SBT parties are the SBT’s key components.
    • Maintaining maximum sustainable yield: The TAC and catch quotas are intended to encourage fishermen to practise sustainable fishing practises and to maintain maximum sustainable yield (MSY).
      • There may be scientific uncertainty surrounding the appropriate catch quota and TAC to maintain MSY.
      • In such circumstances, it is customary in international environmental law to err on the side of caution.

Governing fishing techniques

  • Limiting the days and times that purse seine fishermen can fish does not adequately control their fishing practises.
  • Large-scale pelagic net usage is being phased out through international legal action.
  • Because of the enormous size of purse seine nets, traditional fishermen cannot catch as much as the purse seiners can.
  • Several regional organisations, such as the Tarawa Declaration of the South Pacific Forum from 1989, forbid the use of large drift nets or call for their prohibition.
  • Port access for drift net fishing vessels is constrained by the 1989 Convention for the Prohibition of Fishing with Long Drift Nets in the South Pacific.
  • Despite being applicable to states parties on the high seas, these conventions and UNGA resolutions are still important for preventing overfishing generally and maintaining fishery management in the EEZ.

On the Non-Selective Fishing Technology

  • The Court must also take into account non-selective fishing techniques that catch other marine living species, including endangered species, as bycatch.
    • A party may enact measures to safeguard people, animals, or plants under the terms of Article XX(b) of the UN resolution as long as they “conserve exhaustible natural resources if such measures are made effective in conjunction with restrictions on domestic production or consumption” (Article XX) (g).
    • In Shrimp/Turtle, the appellate body determined that the U.S. measure, which forbade the importation of shrimp from any nation lacking a turtle-excluder fishing gear comparable to that of the U.S., qualified as a conservation measure for exhaustible natural resources under Article XX(g).

Conclusion

  • Dealing with the limitless nature of the seas poses a challenge despite the best conservation policies and laws, making a shared resource like fish open to exploitation by all.
  • All fishermen, especially purse seiners in Tamil Nadu, should be persuaded to cooperate in adhering to conservation measures by Garrett Hardin’s theory, “The Tragedy of the Commons,” which claims that “freedom in commons brings ruin to all.”
  • The court must also take into account the recommendations of regional and multilateral conventions on non-selective fishing technology, regulating fishing methods, and sustainable fishing practises.

The only way to safeguard our marine resources for future generations is to practise precaution and work together to abide by conservation measures.


From Above, ruling over the nation’s capital


Context

The Delhi Municipal Corporation elections were held on December 4, 2022, more than two months ago. However, the city still does not have a mayor.

Relevance:

GS Paper-2: Structure, organization and functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary—Ministries and Departments of the Government

Mains Question

Thirty years after the 73rd and 74th Amendments were passed, which aimed to transform panchayats and municipalities into “institutions of self-government,” local governments frequently serve as administrative arms of the State government rather than as a separate level of government. Do you concur? (250 words)


Important Details

  • Just before the first session, Delhi’s Lieutenant Governor (LG), V.K. Saxena, nominated 10 individuals to the Municipal Corporation, also known as the Aldermen.
    • In response to a petition brought by an AAP councillor, a three-judge Supreme Court bench presided over by Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud recently stated orally that “nominated members cannot go for election” and rescheduled the case’s hearing.
    • The top court will now hear the case before the mayoral election is held.
  • What’s at stake here?
    • The controversy surrounding Delhi’s mayoral election raises a number of issues.
      • On one hand, it exemplifies the Union government’s growing efforts to exert control over Delhi’s administration; on the other hand, it raises more fundamental issues about how municipal corporations are managed by higher echelons of government.

Constitutional Provisions

  • Section 3(b)(i) of the Delhi Municipal Corporation (DMC) Act, 1957, stipulates that the Corporation shall nominate ten individuals who have “special knowledge or experience in municipal administration,” with the proviso that they “shall not have the right to vote in the Corporation meetings.”
  • In addition, Article 243R(2)(a) of the Constitution, which was added by the 74th Amendment, states that states may legislate to allow those with specialised knowledge of municipal administration to be represented in municipalities, but they are not allowed to vote.

Increasing efforts to take control of Delhi’s government

  • Act of 2021 amending the national capital territory of Delhi.
  • The Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Act, 2021, was the most egregious display of such power.
    • The amendment “clarifies” that the term “Government” shall mean the LG, thus overturning the Supreme Court’s decision upholding the primacy of Delhi’s elected government.
  • The amendment further stipulated that, with regard to matters specified by the LG, the Council of Ministers must first seek its approval before making any executive decisions. It also placed limitations on the Legislative Assembly’s inherent power to make rules.
    • The trifurcation of the Municipal Corporation that took place in 2011 was effectively reversed when Parliament amended the Delhi Municipal Corporation Act in April 2022 to merge the North, South, and East Delhi Municipal Corporations into a single corporation.
  • However, the unification was started by the Union government and passed by Parliament, undermining the Legislative Assembly, while the trifurcation was implemented through an amendment passed by the Delhi Legislative Assembly.
    • The Union government passed this law using its plenary powers under Article 239AA of the Constitution, despite the fact that local governments are a state subject according to the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution.
    • The problem isn’t just that the Union government is trying to exert control over Delhi’s municipal and state governments; it’s also that higher levels of government are doing so.

The mayor’s duties include the following:

  1. He or she oversees the local civic body.
  2. The fixed tenure varies by town.
  3. The city’s first inhabitant.
  4. Plays two distinct roles: representing the city and preserving its honour during formal occasions, and, in a more practical capacity, presiding over discussions of the civic house with elected representatives.
  5. The Mayor’s presiding role at various meetings pertaining to the corporation is limited to the corporation hall.
  6. The Mayor serves as the corporation meeting’s presiding authority when a foreign dignitary visits the city; he is invited by the state government to welcome the guest of honour and to speak on behalf of the city’s residents. His role goes far beyond the local city and country.
  7. He is given prominence at official, civic, and other social events.

Issues that different municipalities deal with include:

  • Union and state governments frequently restrain the power of local governments.
    • While the 74th Amendment called for States to transfer a total of 18 powers to municipal governments, many of these powers are still held by parastatal organisations under the control of the state government, such as development authorities.
  • The executive powers of the municipality are frequently delegated to commissioners appointed by the State government, relegating the Mayor to a ceremonial role.
  • Municipalities have very limited authority to generate revenue, which forces them to depend on grants and loans from the State and Union governments.
  • More recently, national-level urban initiatives like the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) and the Smart Cities Mission have given the Union government a larger role in guiding urban development and governance.

Way Forward

  • There needs to be more discussion about what authority each level of government should exercise as local governments become weaker in the midst of an overall centralising trend in Indian polity.
  • While it is important for local governments to have autonomy, higher levels of government can also play a legitimate role in resolving local problems. For example, they can ensure regional coordination, lessen spatial inequality, or handle economic and environmental externalities.

Conclusion

While it is important to acknowledge and understand the realpolitik considerations driving the powers of the municipality, we should also not ignore the fundamental values of local democracy that underpin municipal authority. Many of the reasons why the Union or State governments interfere in local governance are motivated by the desire to accumulate political and economic power or for short-term electoral advantage


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