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Indian Legal Instruments

Central legal frameworks

Besides these, there are other important legislation relevant for fisheries and fishing communities, such as Coastal Aquaculture Authority Act 2005,The Biological Diversity Act 2002, The Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 (as amended 2002 and 2006), Trade Unions (Amendment) Act 2001, Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, Marine Products Export Development Authority Act, 1972, Merchant Shipping Act 1958, The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers(Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 and Rules, 2007 besides notifications under these. Draft Marine Fisheries (Regulation and Management) Bill, 2009 For full text of of relevant central legislation, visit Indian Legal Instruments website

State fisheries legislation.
Fisheries within the 12-mile territorial limits are managed under the Marine Fishing Regulation Acts (MFRA) of the maritime States of India. The Act is based on a model piece of legislation prepared by the Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India, in 1979, in response to demand from fishers operating unpowered fishing vessels to protect their fishing space and equipment from bottom trawlers. Some of the important management measures adopted under the MFRA are prohibitions on certain fishing gear, regulations on mesh size, establishment of closed seasons and areas, demarcations of zones for no-trawling, besides other measures such as use of turtle excluder devices, and designation of no-fishing areas.

The Kerala Aquarian (Fisheries) Reform Act, 2008 (Draft prepared by Committee)
Full test of State Marine Fishing Regulation Act, Rules, and subsequent notifications

States Year Adopted Area reserved for traditional craft Area reserved for Mechanized craft (upto 12 nautical miles)
Gujarat 2003 5 nautical miles (nm) Beyond 5 nm (9kms)
Maharashtra 1981 5 fathoms (Mumbai, Raigad, Thane)
10 fathoms (Ratnagiri, Sindhudurg)
Goa, Daman and Diu 1980 2.6 nm(5 km) Beyond 2.6 nm (5 km)
Karnataka 1986 3.23 nm (6 km) Vessels upto 50ft beyond 3.23 nm (6 km)
Vessels above 50ft beyond 10.79 (20 km)
Southern sector (1): Kollengode to Paravoor Pozhikkara
Southern sector (2):
Pozhikkara to Kovilthottam
Northern Sector: Kovilthottam to Manjeswaram
1980 Southern sector (1): upto 25 fathoms
Southern sector (2): upto 18 fathoms
Northern sector: upto 12 fathoms

Motorized fishing zone
Southern sector: area upto 20 fathoms
Northern sector: area upto 10 fathoms
Mechanized fishing vessels less than 25 GRT
Southern sector: upto 35 fathom line
Northern sector: upto 20 fathom line
Tamil Nadu 1983 3 nautical miles Beyond 3 nautical miles
Andhra Pradesh 1994 upto 8 km *Mech. boats – beyond 8km
*20 m OAL and above – beyond 12.4 nm(23 km)
Orissa 1982 2.6 nm (5 km) * upto 15 mts – beyond 2.6 nm (5 km)
*above 15 mts – beyond 5.39 nm (10 km)
West Bengal 1993 Non –mechanized: up to 9 mts – till 4.3 nm (8 km)
Non -mechanized above 9 mts – upto 10.7 nm (20 km) but not below 8 km
Mechanized upto 15m – upto 50 kms but not 10.7 nm (20 kms)
Mechanized above 15m – beyond 26. 99 (50 kms)
Andaman and Nicobar Islands 2004 Fishing Zone A: upto 6nm
Vessels fitted with 30 HP engines including traditional and non-mechanized boats.
(Gear to be used –
(i) Gill net not below 25 mm mesh (knot to knot diagonally).
(ii)Hook & Line.
(iii) Shore seine/drag net of mesh size not below 25 mm.
(iv) Fish traps.)

Fishing Zone – B (Territorial waters beyond 6 nautical miles from appropriate base line). Vessels fitted with engines of more than 30 HP.
Gill net not below 25 mm mesh.
(ii) Trawl net of standard mesh size fitted with turtle excluder device suitable to the trawl net.
(iii) Long line, purse seine, squid Jigger.
(iv) Hook & Line.


2000, Rules 2001.

Based on notification in 2002

Boat fitted with mechanized engines for propulsion

Prohibits the use of purse-seine, pelagic trawl, mid water trawl, and bottom trawl fishing gears and ring seine of mesh size 20 mesh size and below, except live bait net, drift gill net of mesh size 50 mm mesh size and below, shore seine of 20 mm mesh size and below – in the specified area.

(* specified area is coral reefs around the islands, and the lagoons and the area in the seas around the inhabited, uninhabited islands and submerged reefs and islets.)

* nautical miles conversion has been done for the purpose of this table, original distance mentioned in parenthesis

It is worth mentioning that the 73rd and 74th amendments to the Constitution of India provide panchayats (local governing councils) with the powers to perform functions mentioned in the Eleventh Schedule of the Constitution, in 29 subjects, including fisheries.

Legal framework of India

Closed Season in different states (Compiled by ICSF)

Fisheries Policy/Schemes

Useful resources Websites

Important cases

  • Supreme court of India. 2006. Petition by the Goa Environment Foudation versus Union of India, on ban on monsoon fishing.
  • High court of Bombay and Goa. 2002. PIL Writ Petition No. 212, Goa environment federation versus State of Goa, Goa fishing boat owners, Goenchea Raponkaracho Ekvot, National Institute of Oceanography, Union of India, Ministry of Agriculture, on stopping fishing by mechanized boats and trawlers during the period between June and August.
  • Supreme court of India. 2004. Essar oil limited versus Halar Utkarsh Samiti and others, against the laying of pipelines across the Gulf of Kutch National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Gujarat High Court 1998. Gujarat Navodaya Mandal versus State of Gujarat and others, to challenge the order of laying of pipelines across the Gulf of Kutch National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Delhi High Court. 1994. World Wild Fund for Nature India vs Union of India and others, on implementation of Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
  • Orissa High Court. 1998. WWF -India v Stateof Orissa, on the use of turtle excluder devices in all fishing trawlers
Draft Reports