Special Correspondent

CUDDALORE: Fishermen have urged the Centre to pass legislation to protect their traditional rights over the coastal areas. The National Fishermen’s Federation (NFF) and the Cuddalore Consumer Protection Organisation have called upon the government to take all efforts to safeguard the interests of fishermen.

In a statement issued here, the organisations said the Coastal Zone Management Act, replacing the Coastal Zone Regulation Act, sought to promote commercial interests and provide access to foreign fishing vessels into the Indian waters.

This would uproot the fishermen from their traditional moorings and affect their livelihood.

In the name of joint ventures, the Centre proposed to allow deep-sea fishing by foreign vessels, which the organisations stoutly opposed as it would be detrimental to the interests of the domestic fishermen.

The organisations noted that fishermen required adequate space on the coast for their houses, for drying of fishing nets, berthing and maneouvring of boats, etc.

If the coastal areas were earmarked for setting up resorts, atomic and thermal power stations, special economic zones and special tourist zones, it would hamper the fishing operation, besides causing pollution.

The organisations said mangroves and naturally formed bio-shields should not be disturbed on any account and none of the water sources should be handed over to the private sector. They called for setting up of a coordination committee for regulating fishing between States.

As in the case of farm loan waiver, the government should also write off loans of the poor fishermen.