Draft fisheries policy pitches for more reforms

Dumps Letter of Permit regime, seeks to strengthen fishermen’s rights

September 07, 2016 01:55 am | Updated September 22, 2016 05:25 pm IST - KOCHI:

The final draft of the National Marine Fisheries Policy 2016 has dumped the 25-year-old Letter of Permit regime (LoP), called for strengthening fisherman’s right to realise higher sale price, and strengthen fishermen’s cooperatives as well as improving compensatory packages to fishermen during trawling ban periods.

The draft notes the lack fishermen’s access to institutional credit and promises to offer public finance under liberal conditions considering the risky nature of fishing operations. The role of National Bank of Agriculture and Rural Development will be explored in this connection, said the draft policy released on September 1.

The Union Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries has called for comments on the draft report within two weeks of its release. The draft was prepared by a seven-member committee of experts headed by S. Ayappan, former director general of Indian Council of Agricultural Research. The committee was constituted at the end of July 2015.

Doing away with the LoP regime has been a long-standing demand. Considering that the LoP scheme has not had the “expected impact” on the goal of “inclusive development,” the government will consider an alternative mechanism for the development of this sector and rescind the existing LoP scheme, said the draft.

Seeks more powers

However, traditional fishermen have sought more powers. The first right of sale and recognition of their rights so that big money investors are kept away from the sector are some of the key demands by the traditional fishers, said Charles George of Trade Union Centre of India.

The fishermen have also demanded that powers over the area beyond the 200 nautical mile should be brought under the Concurrent List and that States’ powers should be extended to waters over 36 nautical miles instead of the present 12 nautical miles.

Mr. George also alleged that the recommendations that were prepared in consultation with the stakeholders had been “sabotaged” by a group of bureaucrats to the detriment of the fisheries sector. Some of the recommendations submitted by the stakeholders had been done away with in the final draft. The recommendations excluded from the draft include demands on fishermen’s rights in connection with the Coastal Zone Regulation and the long-pending aquarian reforms.

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