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Thursday, December 15, 2011

New Bill aimed at preventing Pirates boats entering and off loading fish at US Ports.

To some, it is very interesting looking at a fish,  be it in a pond or in a fish tank or in an aquarium – fish is beautiful to look at and watching it swimming could be a great tension reliever.  

These are only small fish – there are much bigger ones out there…… in big Oceans  - and fishing is a great trade.  Guppies, Mollies, Angels, Gold fish and the like are some aquarium fishes; Salmon, Trout, Mackerel, Red fish, blackdrum, Tarpon, Cobia, Barracuda, Carp, Cod, Shark, Tuna are some of the Ocean fishes.

                  A variety known as Sailfish are designated to the fastest which can outmatch cheetahs on land.   The ocean sunfish, Mola mola, or common mola, is the heaviest known bony fish in the world. It has an average adult weight of 1,000 kg (2,200 lb). Sunfish live on a diet that consists mainly of jellyfish, but because this diet is nutritionally poor, they consume large amounts in order to develop and maintain their great bulk.

Many make a living by catching and selling fish – from the traditional fishermen in catamarans to fishing trawlers to factory vessels – this is a huge trade.  Commercial fishing is the activity of catching fish and other seafood for commercial profit, mostly from wild fisheries. It provides a large quantity of food to many countries around the world, but those who practice it as an industry must often pursue fish far into the ocean under adverse conditions.   Fishing methods vary according to the region, the species being fished for, and the technology available to the fishermen. Commercial fishing gears in use today include surrounding nets, seine nets, trawl nets, dredges, hooks, gillnets, entangling nets and traps.

Quite often we read about harassment meted out to Indian fisherfolk from Rameswaram and elsewhere by Sri Lankan Navy, as they are caught in disputed waters. They say at sea no line exists and hence difficult to fathom out where exactly they are – whether within Indian territorial waters or out of it.  Fishing outside the permitted zones is commonly prevalent – there are pirate fishing vessels at large.

In United States, a bill is being introduced in Congress aimed at preventing pirate fishing vessels from entering U.S. ports to offload their illegally caught seafood. This pirate fishing is often called illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. The Administration bill, which implements an international agreement the United States helped negotiate, would benefit U.S. fishermen, seafood buyers, and consumers by keeping illegal seafood out of global trade. It is sponsored by U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye of Hawaii, who introduced it in the Senate yesterday, and is co-sponsored by Sens. Begich, Snowe, Whitehouse, Murkowski, and Rockefeller.   It is claimed that as one of the top importers of seafood globally, the U.S. is committed to combating illegal fishing and ensuring a level playing field for our fishermen. The international agreement and this bill will close the world’s ports to illegal fishing.  This legislation arises from the first binding global agreement to focus on combating IUU fishing, the agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing. This international accord is recognized globally as a landmark agreement. As a leader in the negotiation of the agreement, the U.S. was one of the first countries to sign it, an act that expresses an intention to ratify the agreement. The agreement will take full effect when 25 parties to the agreement ratify it. Three countries – Norway, Sri Lanka, and Burma – along with the European Union have already ratified it, and 18 more countries and the U.S. have expressed an intention to ratify.   Countries that ratify the agreement have four basic obligations:

•        Designating ports through which foreign fishing vessels may enter;
•    Conducting dockside vessel inspections in the designated ports, following established standards;
•        Blocking port entry and access to port services to vessels known to or believed to have been involved in IUU fishing, particularly those on the IUU vessel list of a regional fishery management organization; and
•     Sharing information, including inspection results, with the governments of vessels found involved in IUU fishing during an inspection.

There are many agencies regulating and overseeing fishing.  NOAA [ National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration] pronounced like "noah", is a scientific agency within the United States Department of Commerce focused on the conditions of the oceans and the atmosphere. NOAA warns of dangerous weather, charts seas and skies, guides the use and protection of ocean and coastal resources, and conducts research to improve understanding and stewardship of the environment. 

Then there is also the Coast Guard.  The United States Coast Guard (USCG) is a branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven U.S. uniformed services. The Coast Guard is a maritime, military, multi-mission service unique among the military branches for having a maritime law enforcement mission (with jurisdiction in both domestic and international waters) and a federal regulatory agency mission as part of its mission set. The Coast Guard carries out three basic roles of  Maritime safety; Maritime security & Maritime stewardship.

Here is something more interesting [source]-  The U.S. Coast Guard has seized an illegal fishing vessel, infested with rats, from an unknown country that was caught illegally drift netting in high seas 2,600 miles southwest of Kodiak.   An official with Customs and Border Protection identified the fishing vessel as the "Bangun Perkasa."   U.S. Coast Guard.  The Coast Guard cutter "Midgett," is escorting the boat to Dutch Harbor, but because of the rats the boat will be anchored a few miles away from the island. As of 4:30 a.m. Friday morning the fishing vessel and Coast Guard cutter were 29 miles north of Adak. The Coast Guard says it is working in conjunction with Customs and Border Protection, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Marine Fisheries Council on this case.   A Japanese fishing agency is stated to have  reported the vessel to the Coast Guard more than a week ago.  Once the crew spotted a Coast Guard helicopter, they abandoned their fishing net and tried to sail out of the area. Coast Guard officials intercepted the boat and boarded it. On board, Francis says, they found about 10 miles of drift nets, about 30 shark carcasses and 30 tons of squid.  The nationality of the 22 fishermen on board is being determined.

According to the Coast Guard, NOAA will be in charge of eradicating the rats on board which could take about a week. Customs and Border Protection will take the crew, process them and return them to their home country.Large-scale high-seas drift net fishing kills massive amount of fish along with other marine life such as whales and turtles by using enormous nets spread out over miles of ocean. Many countries, including the U.S., are working to halt the practice.

The Ocean is very deep and can keep throwing out innumerable things…..

With regards

S. Sampathkumar


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