The National Fishworkers Forum has urged the government to accord climate change refugee status for fishers affected by natural calamities.
A resolution adopted at the annual general body meeting of the NFF held in Visakhapatnam on December 19 and 20 demanded adequate compensation for loss of livelihood due to natural disasters such as cyclone and storm surges.
The meeting appealed to the government to drop the proposals for construction of new commercial ports and power plants in the coastal areas. There was no point in taking up the construction of new commercial ports as the existing ports were underutilised, the resolution said. Opposing the nuclear and thermal power plant projects slated to come up in the coastal areas, it said the fisher communities would be affected if the coastal belt was converted into the power generation hub of the country.
It called for a total ban on destructive fishing methods like purse seine, bottom trawling, line trawling, pair trawling, twin trawling, bull trawling and high speed trawling to avoid over exploitation of fish resources.
Pointing out that seismic survey conducted in the seas off the western coast were causing immense hardship to fishermen of the region, the meeting demanded that the activity be called off immediately.
It appealed to the government to bifurcate the Ministry of Agriculture and create a separate ministry for fisheries and fishermen welfare. The meeting demanded that all fisher communities in India be notified as scheduled tribes as recommended by the Mandal commission. This, it said, would ensure reservation benefits for the community in education and employment and ensure due representation in elected bodies including state Assemblies and the Parliament.
The NFF stressed the need for bilateral and consistent dialogue to avoid harassment of fishermen venturing into the territorial waters of neighbouring countries like Sri Lanka, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.
Forum wants government to drop proposals for construction of new commercial ports.