Govind D. Belgaumkar

Leaders wonder if fishermen will be excluded as was the case last time

MANGALORE: Will the proposed consultations on the efforts of the Union Government to strengthen the rules governing the management of coastal areas include the fishermen this time?

This question was being raised even as the Bangalore-based Centre for Environment Education (CEE) was preparing itself to hold a day-long meeting for the Karnataka coastal management here in this regard.

The Union Government, which had sought to strengthen the existing Coastal Regulations Zone, 1991, wanted to replace it with the “Central Management Zone”, but the opposition against it from all quarters forced the Government to drop the proposal. Following this, the Centre is re-thinking about the coastal management or regulation. Union Minister for of State for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh held a series of consultations in this regard recently in Mumbai, Goa, Kolkata, and Chennai. According to sources, the CEE has been asked to hold State-specific “public consultation with fishermen and local communities to strengthen the CRZ.” It aims at advising the Government on the policy and legal framework for integrated coastal zone management.

The CEE has decided to hold it in the College of Fisheries here for the districts of Uttara Kannada, Udupi, and Dakshina Kannada.

The CEE had held a consultation on the coastal management at the same place more than year ago. The only representative of the fishermen to have attended it was Upendra A. Hosbet.

He had pointed out that previous meeting hardly included fishermen and their voice was not properly heard. The then Deputy Commissioner M. Maheshwara Rao, who attended it, too had voiced similar concerns.

Mr. Hosbet, working president of the Federation of Traditional Fishermen’s Organisations of Coastal Karnataka, said that the venue chosen for the consultation was itself not convenient for fishermen to attend it. The college was seldom pro-fishermen, and traditionally they shied away from attending the programmes of the college. He said he had communicated this to the coordinator of the event, Ishwar Poojar. Secretary of the National Fishworkers Forum Vasudev Boloor said that the event should have been held at the Matsya Bhavan at Bunder, where fishing harbour was located. Mr. Boloor pointed out that an earlier consultation in Mumbai had been boycotted by the fishermen as they were not included in it.

Mr. Poojar said that it was only for logistics reasons that the event was being held at the college. Copies of the Kannada version of the report of the expert committee, headed by M.S. Swaminathan, constituted to review the draft CMZ notification, were available at the college.

It could be downloaded from the CEE’s website, he said.