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Centre to issue norms to ensure small-scale fishermen their rights

Centre to issue norms to ensure small-scale fishermen their rights
With an aim to help marginalised and poor fish farmers throughout the country, the Centre will soon issue guidelines to all the states to ensure the rights and entitlements of the small-scale fishermen.

A national platform comprising of inland fish workers has already been formed for the first time by the Centre to fight the interest of fisher folks in the country. The National Policy on Inland Fisheries will focus on the assessment of potentials for inland fisheries. The Centre will also prepare a road map for the utilisation of the potentials and resources available with the various state governments.

Efforts will be made to sensitize the states on the necessity of implementing the National Policy on Inland Fisheries. The main purpose of issuing guidelines is to ensure the protection of water bodies and their catchment areas and for recognition and incorporation of fisheries in all development planning that affect water bodies and watershed management.

A national level meeting was held in West Midnapore recently and an advisory committee has been appointed to prepare a road map on the areas that need the attention of the Centre and state governments and how to develop the inland fisheries, in which around 20 million fishing communities are involved.

Dakshinbanga Matsyajibi Forum (DMF) took part in the meeting. A resolution has been taken to jointly fight to put an end to the deprivation of small fishing communities and destruction of the water bodies. The National Platform of Small Scale Fish Workers will address all the issues pertaining to small scale fishermen which have been unaddressed for a long time. There was an earlier attempt to organise the fishing communities, but it remained unsuccessful.

It may be mentioned here that the state government has already taken a series of projects to improve the socio economic condition of small scale fishermen by providing them fund encouraging more number of people in pisciculture. Co-operatives have been formed in the villages so that people in groups can start fish farming in ponds and various water bodies.

The national platform has been formed by the Ministry of agriculture and Farmers Welfare vowing to fight for the demands of the fishing communities and protect the interests of the fisher folk. Rivers and canals, reservoirs, ponds and tanks, oxbow lakes, wetlands, backwaters and estuaries yield 6.14 million tonnes of fish, which is more than 64 per cent of the total fish production in the country. The sector sustains about four million fish workers and a total population of around two crore. Yet, the potential of inland fishery resources is far from properly utilised.

Less than 10 per cent of the country's natural potential is used for fresh water aquaculture, while for brackish water aquaculture the area under cultivation is just above 13 per cent of the potential area available.
General Secretary of the DMF Debasish Shyamal alleged that the rivers were being poisoned with heavy pollution load and diversion of water from rivers is harming their ecological flow. Usage of chemicals in agriculture is destroying the fish resources of wetlands and paddy fields. The first victims are the small fishermen and fish farmers, whose livelihood is inseparably linked with the quality of the water bodies.
Pradip Chatterjee

Pradip Chatterjee

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