Various organisations working among fishers have called upon the Central government to have a fresh look at the Draft National Fisheries Policy, 2020.
The policy, they said, lacked in many areas and had not recognised traditional fishers and fishing methods and was looking at the sector only from a commercial view point.
National Fishworkers Forum’s head T. Peter said the draft had not been discussed with the stakeholders, it had not been discussed in Parliament or circulated among the State governments concerned. “They are trying to finish the work including drawing up legislations and guidelines using this pandemic as a reason,” he said.
Jesu Rethinam of the National Fish Workers’ Forum said that women played a very vital role in the fisheries sector. “They are involved in harvest and post harvest. The word women has been mentioned only five times in the entire policy document which shows that the premise and intent of the policy is not women-friendly. Though there are women in many parts of the country who engage in fishing activity, there is no mention about them,” she said.
As for inland fishing, there were people who depended on small ponds, rivers and large dams. There should be a scope for all stakeholders, especially the small ones. “They came with a policy one year back but there is no mention of that in the present policy which seems to be a mash up of all past policies,” said an activist, who did not want to be named.
A retired official of the Fisheries department said the Central government needs to study the potential of mariculture before giving thrust to that sector. “The policy alone cannot do anything for the sector; we need rules, guidelines and enactments to take the policy to the next level,” he said.