Agri Business

National Fishworkers Forum plans agitation against Centre’s policies impacting fisheries sector

V Sajeev Kumar Kochi | Updated on September 23, 2020 Published on September 23, 2020

Policies being implemented or planned without adequate consultations with stakeholders, says forum

Fishing communities in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry are gearing for an agitation next month against the Centre imposing policies and laws without consulting the stakeholders.

According to Narendra R Patil, chairperson and T Peter, general secretary, National Fishworkers Forum, the government has moved fast to impose many new policies, laws and regulations without proper consultations or debate. The three key policies – two in draft stage and one already notified – will be opposed through state-wide agitations.

They will protest the government notification for a Shipping Corridor off the Kollam Coast, draft National Fisheries Policy and draft Environment Impact Assessment Act 2020.

Shipping corridor

While the objective of the shipping corridor is to avoid collisions between ships and fishing boats, the fishermen have been demanding that the corridor should be located beyond the 500 metre line to avoid livelihood losses. The government has notified the shipping corridor that will occupy a width of approximately 10 nautical miles (18 km) right in the middle of Kollam bank.

Also read: Shipping Ministry regulates routes for fishing and merchant boats in South-West waters

Even though fishing is not prohibited in this corridor, it will concentrate all ship movements through this path and become risky for those fishermen who opt to fish within the confines of the corridor, the leaders said, adding that the corridor was notified on July 2 and came into effect on August 1, right in the middle of pandemic.

‘Detailed study needed’

NFF demanded the government to undertake a detailed study of ship-boat collisions on the Indian coast and come up with policies to eliminate or significantly reduce these collisions after due consultations with fishing communities.

‘Withdraw draft fisheries policy’

On the draft National Fisheries Policy, NFF said that the timing of the notification in the middle of the pandemic, gives fishing communities no scope to meet and discuss. “We demand that the draft policy be withdrawn and a broad-based dialogue started with the fishing communities with adequate materials in all national languages”, they said.

Also read: National Fishworkers Forum flays draft Fisheries Policy 2020

The draft EIA Act will have significant impact on the fisheries sector which depends on natural resources both aquatic and terrestrial. The existing environmental protection laws and its implementation in industrial, infrastructure and aquaculture projects have already created considerable displacement of fishing communities and negatively impacted their livelihoods.

There is already a strong mobiisation against the draft EIA Act at national level and it is important that the fishing community also voices its protest strongly. NFF also sought amendments to the existing act that will strengthen the protection of the environment based on a dialogue with all-natural resource dependent group including fishing communities.

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Published on September 23, 2020
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