Special Correspondent

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Kerala Matsya Thozhilali Federation and the National Fish Workers Forum are on the warpath against the proposed law to regulate marine fishing.

T. Peter, president of the Kerala Matsya Thozhilali Federation, asked the Centre on Friday to withdraw the bill prepared for the purpose as it would adversely affect the traditional and small fishermen and bring forward a law for protecting the livelihood and job security of those sections. He said these fishermen now operated in places that were 30 to 40 nautical miles away. The provision that they should obtain the Centre’s permission for operating beyond 12 nautical miles could be seen only as interference in the traditional rights of the fishermen. He wanted them to be allowed to operate freely in the Indian Ocean. He wondered how the Centre could ignore even the recommendations of the Murari Committee appointed by it to encourage traditional and small fishermen to take up deep-sea fishing. The bill provided for the imposition of a fine of up to Rs.9 lakh on those who violated the 12 nautical mile limit even if it was due to strong wind or currents. Even though Union Minister for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh had promised to hold talks with the fish workers on the bill, it was yet to take place.

He also called for extending the savings-cum-relief scheme being implemented during lean months to all fish workers.

After shifting 60 per cent of the fishermen to the APL list, the government was saying that it would be given only to the BPL sections. He called for correcting the stand. All fishermen should be brought to the BPL list.