Traditional fishermen who inhabit the coast are the most endangered ones in the present scenario, said the former Head of the Department of Anthropology P. Vijay Prakash at a seminar in Vishakhapatnam on Saturday. Giving a PowerPoint presentation on the research topic ‘Traditional maritime knowledge: Its potential for research and conservation’, the professor pointed out that the fisherfolk were being compressed from all sides. On one side they were being encroached upon by the government-initiated projects under the public-private partnership such as Pharma city and coastal corridor and on the other the sea was slowly creeping into their settlements.

The professor and his team undertook the research on behalf of National Maritime Foundation- Visakhapatnam Regional Chapter, which was sponsored by the Visakhapatnam Port Trust. The team covered about 190 villages along the coast of the three districts of Visakhapatnam, Vizianagaram and Srikakulam, and studied various activities such as culture, heritage, economics of fishing, marketing and traditional boat making.

The professor in his presentation highlighted the plight of the traditional fishermen and suggested that something needs to be done on war footing to prevent them from becoming extinct. Apart from water and hygiene problems the fishermen were hit badly in the fish catch region. “Earlier the fishermen had about 125 varieties of fishes in the water.

‘Increasing pollution’

Today, they barely have about 25, and the drop is due to rampant effluent pumping into the sea by pharma and petrochemical companies and pumping of diesel by the diesel operated boats,” he said.

Dr. Vijay Prakash said the total coastline of India was about 7,500 km and AP alone caters to 1,030 km, which is about 13 per cent.

“A one-metre rise in the sea level due to global warming will inundate over 230 villages, in the three districts alone.” He pointed out that 27 per cent of the fishing villages are located just five metres away from the sea.

Releasing the research document, the Chairman of VPT Ajeya Kalam said, “Data is important for any research and development and the data collected by a professor from a university is always authentic and at time even better than the ones assimilated by government agencies.”

Earlier, the Director of Centre for Policy Studies A. Prasanna Kumar gave a brief of the functioning of NMF and the idea behind the research project.

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