[Reader-list] Kerala Fishers Gearing up for Protest Against National Fisheries Policy

T Peter peter.ksmtf at gmail.com
Fri Dec 4 20:52:12 CST 2015

Kerala Fishers Gearing up for Protest Against National Fisheries Policy

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: After successfully thwarting the Meenakumari Committee
report on deep sea fishing, fishermen are gearing up for yet another
protest against the drafting process for a new National Marine Fisheries
Policy. They are aggrieved as none of their representatives were included
in the seven-member expert committee constituted by the Central Government
to revise the existing policy formed in 2004.  “We are not against the new
policy. But we question the way in which it is being drafted,” T Peter,
secretary, National Fishworkers Forum (NFF), said on Friday. He was
speaking while moderating a seminar organised by the Kerala Swathanthra
Matsya Thozhilali Federation and NFF.

According to Peter, the BJP government should follow the draft prepared by
the party in 2012. “The BJP national policy on fishing and fishermen
presented by Nitin Gadkari at the time of the UPA government should be the
base document for the expert committee. The change in stance is to support
the corporates,” he said.

Fishermen organisations and other experts at the seminar were even more
critical of the questionnaire released by the committee to help draft the
policy. “The Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI) sought the
opinions and views of all stakeholders on key issues affecting marine
fisheries through a questionnaire. But curiously 85 questions in the
questionnaire can be answered only in yes/no format. These questions cannot
be answered with just yes or no. But it tells   about what the outcome of
the committee would be. Fishermen were not included for they do not want
the report to end up like the Meena Kumari Committee report,” said D
Sanjeev Ghosh, former Additional Director, Department of Fisheries.

B Ignatious Mandro, Deputy Director, Directorate of Fisheries, said there
were some controversial questions in the questionnaire where a yes or no
could adversely affect the fishing community. “There are many questions
which do not offer much choice in answers. Questions on which agency to
regulate enforcement, amenities in multiday vessels, Letter of Permission
scheme, etc are some of them,” he said. LoP is a scheme of the Department
of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries, giving permit to Indian
fishing firms to import foreign vessels for fishing in the Indian Exclusive
Economic Zone. “Even if the fishermen respond with a yes or no, indicating
their preference for LOP scheme, it could be used for supporting the entry
of foreign vessels in the report,” he said.

*Centre Flayed*

T N Prathapan MLA, who inaugurated the seminar, said he was registering his
protest for the callous attitude of the government in framing the policy
that affected the life and livelihood of millions of people in the country.
“The Centre wants to draft the policy to suit the needs of corporates and
international lobbies. The questionnaire is part of the predetermined
draft,” he said. He saidthe Murari panel report was made with meaningful
contributions from the fishing community and could be considered the Magna
Carta of fishing policy. But the report was put in the backburner, he said.

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