The guidelines speak out against over and destructive fishing. They also seek to protect fisherfolk from pollution and encroachment of water bodies

Non-governmental organisations working for fishermen’s welfare have welcomed the Food and Agriculture Organisation’s (FAO) adoption of international guidelines on small-scale fisheries at a convention in Rome on Tuesday.

They feel the guidelines will safeguard the interests of small fishermen, and urged the Indian government to adopt the guidelines. The guidelines are an international instrument on small-scale fisheries and are based on the recognition of small-scale fisheries as a principal contributor to poverty alleviation and food security.

The guidelines speak out against over and destructive fishing. They also seek to protect fisherfolk from pollution and encroachment of water bodies, explained an expert in small-scale fisheries.

Pradip Chatterjee, general secretary of National Fishworkers’ Forum, explained that the guidelines are voluntary and that if small and traditional fishermen are to benefit from it, the Government of India must adopt them.

National Fishworkers’ Forum chairperson M. Ilango said that small-scale fisheries have never been considered as a source of food safety.

“These guidelines are a step forward in providing fisherfolk recognition. The guidelines are even more important for India as over 90 per cent of the world’s small-scale fisherfolk are in Asia.”

P. Justin Antony of Tamil Nadu Fishermen Development Trust said that the small-scale fishermen are those who fish close to the sea and their incomes remain low. “There is a chance of these people getting long-term income,” he added.

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