Staff Reporter

VISAKHAPATNAM: The Marine Fisheries Regulation and Management (MFRM) Bill (draft) and Traditional Marine and Coastal Fisher folk (Protection of Rights) Bill (draft) do not satisfy the aspirations of India’s 1.1 million marine fishermen and a community of 3.5 million coastal people, said the president of Traditional Fish Workers Union T.K. Rahman.

At a meeting of the executive members of TFW from the three districts of Srikakulam, Vizianagaram and Visakhapatnam on Sunday, he said that the MFRM Bill also contradicts the Murari Committee’s recommendations which had clearly stated that the traditional and small scale fishermen and their vessels were sufficient to exploit the resources in the Indian waters including the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and had ruled out the need for foreign fishing vessels.

Mr. Rahman, who is also an executive member of the National Fish workers Forum, had participated in the NFF agitation on the issue in Delhi last month. He said that it was feared that the bill would make a provision to open our waters to foreign fishing vessels. Traditional fishermen will not be able to go beyond the 12 nautical miles territorial waters without a license from the central authorities. Those who do so without permission could be fined Rs.9 lakhs and imprisoned up to three months.

He described the Traditional Marine and Coastal Fisher folk (protection of rights) Bill as a ‘poor copy’ of the Forest Rights Act as this Bill fails to take into consideration the ground realities of Indian coastal villages. He said that the NFF had demanded the bill be kept in abeyance till the coastal communities were consulted.

He said that the Union Minister for Agriculture Sharad Pawar had agreed to the demand for holding consultations with fishermen and other stakeholders.