Editorials/Opinions Analysis For UPSC 26 December 2022
- Purse Seine Fishing
- Unconstitutional inaction and constitutional silences
Purse Seine Fishing
A case is being heard in the Supreme Court on the legality and other aspects of various states’ bans on purse seine fishing. During the hearing, many states argued in favour of the ban, while the union government argued in favour of lifting the ban on purse seine fishing.
GS Paper -3: Environment conservation, environmental pollution and degradation; issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth, development and employment,
What exactly is Prune Seine fishing? Give an account of India’s fisheries sector and propose measures to increase fish production in India. (250 words)
What exactly is Purse Seine Fishing?
- In the open ocean, purse seines fishing is used to target dense schools of single-species pelagic (midwater) fish such as tuna and mackerel.
- It surrounds these dense shoals of pelagic with a large vertical net.
- Once the fish has been identified and captured in the net, the net is drawn together to enclose the fish by tightening the cords of a drawstring purse.
- Purse seine fishing is widely used along India’s western coasts.
Concerns about Purse fishing
- Purse fishing is thought to be to blame for the declining stocks of small, pelagic shoaling fish such as sardines, mackerel, anchovies, and trevally off the western coasts.
- However, the scientific community contends that climatic conditions, including the El Nino phenomenon, are to blame for the drop in such fish catch over the last ten years.
- Opposition and fear among traditional fishermen, who believe that if the ban is lifted, the availability of these small fishes will dwindle further, adding to already low numbers.
- The dwindling availability of Indian oil sardines, which are popular in Kerala, saw a sharp decrease, with a catch of only 3,297 tonnes compared to 3.9 lakh tonnes in 2012.
- Once again, traditional fishers blame purse seines for the decline in sardines in Indian waters.
Advantages of Purse fishing
- Efficient and scientific o It is the best and most efficient gear for catching small, shoaling sea fish, particularly from the first layer of the sea.
- A boat using purse seine gear will be loaded with fish, increasing the number of fish.
- Other species’ safety
- Because it focuses solely on shoaling fishes, the purse seine method does not exploit other species.
- It has no contact with the seabed and can have low by catch levels.
- It can also be used to catch fish that have gathered around fish aggregation devices.
A Quick Overview of the Indian Fisheries Sector
- With approximately 7.56% of global fish production, India is the world’s second largest fish producer.
- (2020-22 Economic Survey)
- The country also has more than 10% of the world’s fish biodiversity and is one of the 17 mega biodiversity-rich countries.
- Fisheries and aquaculture production has increased dramatically over the last few decades, from 5 lakh tonnes in 1950-51 to 142 lakh tonnes in FY 2019-20.
- The fisheries sector’s share of total GDP (at current prices) increased from 0.40% in 1950-51 to 1.07% in 2020.
- The sector contributed approximately 1.24% of the country’s GVA and more than 7.28% of agricultural GVA.
- The fishing industry has been designated a ‘Sunrise Sector,’ with an outstanding double-digit average annual growth rate of 10.87% since 2014-15.
- In FY 20-21, India produced 11.25 MMT of inland fish and 3.48 MMT of marine fish.
What is the position of the United States?
- Fishing is a state subject, and the state is responsible for developing a management plan for marine fisheries in territorial waters.
- Both Kerala and Tamil Nadu believe fishing is a state matter and that they have the authority to prohibit it.
- Purse seine is extremely harmful to marine resources because it is a non-targeted fishing gear that catches all types of fish that come into contact with the net, including juveniles.
- Currently, purse seine fishing is prohibited in the territorial waters of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Puducherry, Odisha, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu, and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands up to 12 nautical miles.
- Some states, including Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Karnataka, and West Bengal, have not imposed such a ban, while Maharashtra has issued some orders to regulate, but not prohibit, purse seine fishing.
Why does the Centre support lifting the ban?
- Based on a report submitted by an expert committee, the Union government has recommended lifting the ban on purse seine fishing.
- The committee recommended that purse seiners continue to fish in territorial waters and the Indian Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) subject to certain conditions because this mode of fishing has not resulted in any serious resource depletion thus far, based on available evidence.
- The committee has also suggested the framing of a “national management plan on purse seine fisheries”.
The way forward
- Address the concerns of the fishing community
- Traditional fish workers’ concerns should be addressed, and they can only be addressed if the expert committee report is made available to trade unions and state governments.
- Gain the trust of all states and develop a common policy.
- Because different states’ positions on the ban differed, it was natural for fish workers, particularly those who used traditional gear, to clash with purse seine users.
- The union government should bring all states together and develop a common policy that alleviates the fishing community’s concerns.
- Implement technological solutions
- Automatic identification systems can be established to identify fishing boats.
- Purse fishing should be limited based on the availability of fish.
- Only when used without supervision can purse seine gear cause concern.
- The number of boats sent out to fish should be determined by the availability of fish.
- Regulation is required.
- Rather than prohibiting, the government should impose certain regulations, such as allowing those who do not use mechanised boats and use small boats to operate within five nautical miles.
- However, shoaling fish should be allowed to be caught using purse seines in the deep sea.
- As a result, rather than a blanket ban, regulation is required to develop a sustainable fishing strategy.
- Purse seine fishing is an internationally used scientific method, and there should be adequate debate;
- The fishing community should be educated about the system, and cooperation among stakeholders can be used to realise the true potential of fishing, including the SDG-14 (Life below water).
Unconstitutional inaction and constitutional silences
The article discusses the Governor’s powers regarding assent given to bills enacted by the State legislature, as well as how these powers are abused by Governors sitting on bills indefinitely and delaying legislation passed by popular vote (State legislature).
GS Paper – 2: Constitutional Bodies, Role of Governor
The exercise of discretionary power by any office has the moral obligation of objectivity and impartiality. However, the Governor’s powers are frequently contested. Analyze. (250 Words)
- When the Constituent Assembly adopted the Indian Constitution on November 26, 1949, deliberate voids were left in it to allow a future Parliament to modify and amend the Constitution in accordance with the aspirations and will of the people.
- It did, however, result in a Constitution with obvious flaws. One such gap, for example, is implied in Article 200 of the Constitution, which does not specify a timetable for the Governor to provide assent to bills sent by a State Legislative Assembly. As a result, the Governors of several Opposition-ruled states have used this to pervert the mandate of democratically elected governments.
- Article 200 of the Constitution: It specifies four possible actions for a Governor to take after a bill has been passed by the legislature and is presented to him/her for assent.
- Give his approval right away.
- Withhold his approval
- Return the Bill to the legislature with a request to reconsider the Bill or any specific provision of the Bill; however, if the legislature passes the Bill again with/without accepting any of the Governor’s suggested amendments, the Governor is constitutionally bound to give assent to the Bill.
- The Governor may also reserve it for the consideration of the President; in this case, the President grants or denies assent (Article 201). However, there is no timetable for even the President to decide on the Bill’s outcome.
- The goal of granting the Governor the authority to grant assent to bills is as follows:
- An independent Governor would serve as a check and balance, preventing state-enacted laws from being in conflict with Union laws.
- It was also intended to serve as a safety valve against hasty legislation, with Governor actions allowing the State Government and Legislature to reconsider.
- Recent controversies resulting from the Governor’s stalling of bills: • In Tamil Nadu alone, nearly 20 bills are awaiting the Governor’s assent. After much delay, the Governor also forwarded the Bill for exemption from the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) to the President.
- The TN government submitted a memorandum to the President requesting that the Governor be removed.
- In Kerala, the Governor publicly stated that he would not give assent to the Lokayukta Amendment Bill, 2022 and the Kerala University Amendment Bill, 2022.
Observations by the Supreme Court
- Purushothaman Nambudiri vs. State of Kerala (1962): A Constitution Bench clarified that the Constitution imposes no time limit on the Governor’s ability to provide assent to Bills.
- It did, however, maintain that the Governor must respect the will of the Legislature and can only act in accordance with their Council of Ministers.
- The Supreme Court also observed that the Governor’s refusal to sign a law validly passed by the Legislature amounts to a direct attack on the federal edifice of the Constitution.
- Shamsher Singh vs State of Punjab (1974): A 7-judge Constitution Bench stated that the President and Governor shall exercise their formal constitutional powers only on the advice of their Ministers, except in a few well-known exceptional cases.
- In the Nabam Rebia case (2016), the Supreme Court cited B R Ambedkar’s observations as follows: o The Governor, according to the Constitution, has no function that he or she can carry out on his or her own, but does have certain duties to carry out, and the House would be wise to keep this distinction in mind.
- It also determined that Article 163 of the Constitution does not grant the Governor broad discretion to act against or against the advice of his Council of Ministers.
- Rajiv Gandhi assassination case (2018): The Supreme Court expressed its displeasure with the delay, citing the Governor’s failure to act for more than two years on the release of the seven convicted prisoners.
Reforms are needed, such as streamlining the Governor’s actions with popular support.
- National Commission to Review the Workings of the Constitution (NCRWC): It recommended that the Governor set a time limit, say six months, within which to decide whether to grant assent or reserve a Bill for consideration by the President.
- Sarkaria Commission: It proposed that the Governor’s delay in granting assent be avoided by streamlining existing procedures, prior consultation with the Governor at the stage of drafting the Bill itself, and prescribing time limits for its disposal.
- Punchhi Committee: It argued for a provision allowing the state legislature to impeach the Governor.
- The Speaker of the Tamil Nadu Assembly: He recently called for the Governors to set a binding timeframe within which Bills should be assented to, returned, or reserved for consideration by the President of India.
- Global practises: For example, it is unconstitutional in the United Kingdom for the monarch to refuse to assent to a Bill passed by Parliament.
- Similarly, in Australia, the crown’s refusal to assent to a Bill is considered repugnant to the federal system.
The way forward
- Though the Governor has executive power in the State, as a nominal head of the State, s/he is expected to exercise that power with the assistance and advice of the Council of Ministers, which is led by the State’s Chief Minister.
- Any unreasonable delay in granting administrative sanction would be a violation of the rule of law, implying that the Governor must grant assent or decline the bill within a “reasonable time.”
- The’reasonable time’ (such as three months) should be weighted according to what is required under the circumstances to do what the duty requires in a specific case.
- The Governor’s assent is the most important act in the entire law-making process, and his/her sole responsibility is to ensure that an elected government operates within the bounds of the Constitution.
- While they may disagree on the contents of a Bill, they should not use their powers to stall legislation that is unpalatable to them.