Participants in a discussion organised by the Kerala Swathanthra Matsya Thozhilali Federation here on Tuesday called for provisions in the Kerala Inland Fishery Bill 2010 to protect the traditional rights and livelihood security of inland fishermen.
Speakers said the Bill had ignored inland fishermen and people engaged in allied activities. Most of its provisions were either inadequate or unacceptable.
They called for steps to identify and register inland fishermen. The current provisions to register these fish workers under the Kerala Fishermen Welfare Societies Act (1980) were confusing.
They said that area-wise and population-wise, Ernakulam and Alappuzha were the prime inland fisheries districts of the State. But they had been excluded from the list of public hearing centres of the legislative subject committee. The meeting called for rescheduling the subject committee meetings to hold public hearings in the two districts.
The speakers demanded that the Bill be called the Kerala Inland Fisheries (Management and Regulation) Bill. The word ‘fishery' was a restrictive term and hence should be deleted.
They said the inland fishermen of the State were vested with some traditional rights for their fishing activities in filtration fields, pokkali areas and paddy-cum-fishing fields. The Bill should specifically acknowledge the traditional rights.
They said fisheries management was not merely “fish conservation and fish reproduction.” Management involved socio-economic goals, protection of livelihood, women-related issues in the sector and consumer and trade-related activities. The principles of inland fisheries management should be clearly indicated in the Bill.
They said the fishing rights in the inland fishing areas, such as estuaries, rivers, reservoirs and brackish water and freshwater sources, should be exclusively vested with the fishermen. The present system of utilisation of these areas should be reviewed and adequate provisions included for their future utilisation.
T. Peter, president of the federation; D. Sanjeeva Ghosh, former Additional Director of Fisheries; S. Ravindran Nair, former Joint Director of Fisheries; Julian Teelar, Executive, Fishmarc; and P.P. John, general secretary of the federation; participated in the discussions.
Keywords: Fishing rights