The traditional and mechanised fishing sectors in Kerala are gearing up for a confrontation with the Union government over the failure to discuss the draft of the revised National Fisheries Policy at the nationwide stakeholder consultations which began at Mumbai on January 25.
The Union Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries (DAHDF) had scheduled stakeholder meetings at Mumbai on January 25, Kochi on February 4, Chennai on February 9, and Visakhapatnam on February 11, to be followed by consultations with State Fisheries Departments in Kochi on February 15.
Leaders of the National Fishworkers Forum (NFF) said the first meeting at Mumbai had proved to be a charade as the officials were not prepared to table or discuss the draft policy.
“The officials who turned up for the meeting circulated a brief note in Marathi and sought feedback from the participants. Representatives of traditional and mechanised sectors registered their protest over the failure to discuss the draft policy”, said NFF national secretary T. Peter.
The Kerala Fisheries Coordination Committee is preparing to register its strong protest over the manner in which the stakeholder consultation was being organised by the government. Member organisations of the committee say the policy formulation exercise had failed to address the livelihood concerns of traditional and small-scale fishers.
General secretary, All Kerala Fishing Boat Operators’ Association, Joseph Xavier Kalappurakkal said the government appeared to be creating a smokescreen to open up the sector to foreign players. Alleging that the DADHF was not serious in discussing the issue with the stakeholders, he warned that fishers would be forced to launch a nationwide stir.
Fishing communities across the country have been up in arms against the failure to ensure the representation of stakeholders in the expert committee set up by the government to revise the national fisheries policy. The committee is chaired by the Director General, Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR), S. Ayyappan and includes members from the Fishery Survey of India, Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute, Marine Products Export Development Authority, and Bay of Bengal Programme.
Stakeholder consultations alleged to be a farce