Staff Reporter

Ganjam district Traditional Fishworkers' Union submits memorandum

Fish population has been affected, say the union leaders

Government urged to take a policy decision

BERHAMPUR: The traditional marine fishermen living on the coast of Ganjam district in Orissa on Friday demanded compensation for their loss of livelihood due to the fuel oil spill into the sea from a ship near Gopalpur port.

Members of the Ganjam district Traditional Fishworkers' Union (GTFU) handed over a memorandum addressed to the State government to the local district administration regarding the demand.

They asked the government to come out with a decision on principle so that the loss of livelihood of fishermen due to mishaps like oil spill from ship could be compensated.

Union leader B. Simadri said the compensation can be borne by the shipping company, the Gopalpur Ports Limited (GPL) or the State government as these three were benefiting from the port project, while the fishermen had been suffering due to its environmental hazards. These fishermen claimed that Rushikulya rookery was one of the major fishing sites on Ganjam coast, where traditional fishermen from different areas of Ganjam district used to come to fish.

The 7,000 litres of oil spilled from the Essar-owned vessel MV-Malabika near Gopalpur port had affected the fish population near Rushikulya rookery.

The fish caught in the area now have an oily stench due to which they do not have any market value.

The GTFU activists also alleged that large fishing nets of several fishermen were also damaged by the oil spill.

The spilled oil got stuck to the nets and changed its colour.

The nets have become unusable as they were now visible to the fish in the sea. Despite much effort, the fishermen were unable to clean up their damaged nets. They also want compensation for the nets damaged by the oil spill.

The fishermen felt with the Gopalpur port coming up in a big way such environmental hazards like the recent oil spill would be on the rise. So, there was a need of a proper policy to compensate the fishermen who were affected by such mishaps. They alleged that government was yet to compensate or provide alternative livelihood to the traditional marine fishermen whose livelihood was affected every year due to ban on fishing by mechanized boats during breeding, nesting and hatching time of Olive ridley turtles.

Peak period

They said the peak period of fishing on Orissa coast was between September and March, which falls during this ban period. It was followed by similar ban on mechanised fishing near coast from April 15 to June 30 as it happens to be the breeding season of fish.