It seeks amendment to the Major Port Trust Act

Praja Spandana president C.S. Rao has appealed to the Centre to bring the entire port sector, including all the minor ports in the country, under the purview of the Union government, particularly the Ministry of Shipping and Surface Transport, in the interest of coastal security and national integration. Addressing a press conference here on Monday, he said the Major Port Trust Act of 1963 should be amended to bring more than 100 minor ports in the country under its control.

Minor ports coming under the administration of the State governments concerned were either developing themselves or handing them over to private players for development. This poses a security problem for the country as coastal security was not the concern of the private players. The unchallenged entry into the Mumbai coast by terrorists and their attack on Tajmahal Palace Hotel and other targets on November 26, 2008 reflects on the fragile coastal security systems in the country. The total coastal belt of peninsular which is 8,118 km poses a big challenge for our Naval defence. The Praja Spandana president urged the Centre to take steps to protect the traditional fishermen and their interests and save them from exploitation by mechanised and motorised fishing vessels. The country has approximately 2.50 lakh fishing vessels, 60,000 mechanised vessels and 80,000 motorised vessels. The total marine fish catch in the country is estimated at 3.15 million tonnes valued at Rs.32,000 crore. Sea food exports have gone up considerably with the introduction of refrigerated marine vessels and containers apart from cold storages and fish processing centres. Shrimps, including white and brown lobster and tuna fish, have great demand in other countries, including Japan. The annual sea food exports runs into billions of dollars and thus it is a highly lucrative foreign exchange earning business activity.

The intruding of commercial and private trawlers into the traditional fishing activity, the interests of traditional fishermen were under severe threat. Most of the traditional fishermen go into the sea with semi-mechanised boats and catamaran. Due to the exploitation of the sea by commercial fishermen the fish catch had been dwindling in the sea posing a threat to the existence of traditional fishermen.

He demanded the government to come up with legislation for protecting the fishermen on the lines of the Forest Rights Act which protected the tribal community.