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Speed up compensation for rescuing protected marine species: Fishermen

DNA had first reported in March 2018 about the ambitious plan of Mangrove Cell, which had decided to pay fishermen up to Rs 25,000 for damages under its Mangrove Foundation's conservation project.

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Speed up compensation for rescuing protected marine species: Fishermen
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While the Maharashtra State Mangrove Cell announced that fishermen who cut their fishing nets to free the entangled protected marine species would be compensated, the fishermen community seems to be disappointed by the delay caused due to the Fisheries Department in getting their compensation.

DNA had first reported in March 2018 about the ambitious plan of Mangrove Cell, which had decided to pay fishermen up to Rs 25,000 for damages under its Mangrove Foundation's conservation project. However, as per the Government Resolution (GR), the claim by fishermen had to be first submitted to the Fisheries Department.

"The entire procedure is so lengthy that many fishermen do not even wish to apply for it and those who have applied several months back are yet to receive compensation. The major reason for the delay is the snail-paced administrative working style of the Fisheries Department," informed Ganesh Nakhawa, vice chairman of Purse Seine Fishing Welfare Association.

Nakhwa, who has been actively spreading awareness amongst the fishermen community to release endangered and protected marine species, said that several commercial fishermen simply cut their nets and release these marine species not for money but as their duty towards conservation. These species include turtles, dolphins, porpoises, whale sharks, sawfish, guitarfishes and others which commonly get stuck in their nets while fishing

"However for a traditional fisherman, cutting the net means a major loss of up to Rs 30,000 at times and if they are not compensated quickly, they will be forced to think twice before cutting the nets and the word will spread amongst the other fishermen too," said Nakhwa adding that hence the entire procedure had to be simplified and ensured that the compensation is paid within a week.

As of now, the fishermen have to submit video or photographic proof of having cut their nets and released the protected marine species along with several necessary documents to the licencing official at Taluka level. The documents then move through various tables in the Fisheries Department and finally land with the assistant commissioner in Mumbai, which once verified is sent to Mangrove Cell for disbursement.

Speaking to DNA officials from the Mangrove Cell agreed that there was a delay in sending claims by the Fisheries Department. "However recently we followed up with the Fisheries Department and asked them to expedite the process they sent us two to three claims including that of fishermen from Karanja and Versova who had released a whale shark and a turtle entangled in their nets respectively," stated an official.

Meanwhile, a senior official from the Fisheries department said that since this was a new scheme the claims took time. "We have instructed our staff to ensure these claims are screened properly and cleared quickly as we want to promote this scheme as well as conservation of marine life," said the official.

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