Fishermen clash over ring nets, 11 injured

The trouble began when a group of fishermen from Vasavanipalem ventured into the sea, carrying ring nets

Visakhapatnam: A group of fishermen clashed with each other over usage of ring nets, leading to one group burning down six boats of another at various places on a beach in Visakhapatnam on Tuesday. While one clash took place near Lawson’s Bay beach, another occurred at Jodugullapalem in the city and Mangamaripeta near Bheemli, around 20 km away from the city.

Police said 11 persons were injured in the clashes and several others were taken into custody. Use of ring nets for fishing is banned within a distance of eight km from the shoreline.

``We have imposed Section 144 in Vasavanipalem and Jalaripeta areas in the city and police officials have been stationed at Mangamaripeta as well as the fishing harbour to control probable clashes between the two groups,’’ said city police chief Manish Kumar Sinha, who visited Peda Jalaripeta. He added that the Coastal Security Police at Rushikonda registered a case and are investigating.

A naval helicopter was also pressed into service to monitor the situation along the beach. Fisheries minister Dr Seediri Appalaraju, who was briefed about the incident, is scheduled to arrive in Visakhapatnam on Wednesday.

The trouble began when a group of fishermen from Vasavanipalem ventured into the sea, carrying ring nets. Meanwhile, another group from Peda Jalaripeta, who received information about the first group, rushed to stop them.

The groups then exchanged blows and some of them set six boats on fire in the water, a few metres away from the shore. Though the fishermen from Vasuvanipalem claimed that their boats were burnt by the rival group, the Peda Jalaripeta group claimed that the owners burnt their own boat.

Representatives of Vasavanipalem fishermen said that they had received court orders permitting them to use ring nets and demanded the district administration to protect them while fishing.

“The court as well as a technical committee formed last year issued directions permitting usage of ring nets beyond eight km, to protect the interests of traditional fishermen as well as to protect marine life,’’ said joint director of fisheries K. Lakshman Rao.

Speaking with DC, Lakshman Rao said ring nets would be of no use beyond eight km due to the water’s depth and therefore, fishermen confine to the three km zone, affecting traditional fishermen who use gill nets.

Meanwhile, another clash took place at Mangamaripeta where fishermen from Pedajalaripeta seized four boats, along with ring nets. Over 12 villages in Vizag have been opposing the use of ring nets. The ring net issue prevails between Visakhapatnam and Bhimili and not anywhere else in the state.

Fisheries minister Dr Appalaraju said he would meet with the leaders of the fisherfolk as well as government officials in Visakhapatnam on Wednesday to resolve the dispute.

“There are 13 registered ring nets in Vizag while 20 are unauthorised. While registration is not mandatory, many owners registered when the government offered compensation post cyclone Hudhud,’’ the minister informed DC.

He said making use of this registration, fishermen were claiming the right to fish in closed waters using ring nets.

Tourism minister Muttamsetti Srinivas visited Mangamaripeta and pacified the warring groups.

"I have informed Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy. I am certain that a solution will be decided soon,’’ he said.

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