Fishermen’s forum opposes shipping corridor

Fishermen’s forum opposes shipping corridor

Members of the National Fishworkers’ Forum (NFF) have objected to the proposal to establish a shipping corridor off the south-west coast of India.

The proposal was mooted by the director general of shipping in order to prevent collision of merchant vessels and fishing boats.

NFF vice chairman Vasudeva Boloor said that the proposed lanes are to be located at a distance of about 90 nautical miles west of Mangaluru. The lanes will lead in a south-eastern direction till the southern tip of India and end about 40 nautical miles off the south of Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu. The average distance from the coast is 50 nautical miles.

‘No study’

Concern over the proposal was voiced at the meeting of NFF recently in Chennai and the members insisted that the government had not carried out a feasible studies with respect to the livelihood and environmental impacts of the project. The government had also not initiated discussions with members of the fishing community.

The NFF had observed that the unilateral move by the government needs to be dealt with cautiously as the main fishing grounds will be lost. About 80% of the fish is available in the area where a majority of the fishing activities are carried out by mechanised and non-mechanised boats.

The NFF has also rejected the draft Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) notification 2018, which was made public by the Union Ministry in April. The notification opposes the protection of biodiversity and ecology and stands in violation of the provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act 1986. The new notification has avoided the traditional rights of the fishing community, said Boloor.

Further, he said the NFF has demanded a comprehensive Coastal Regulation Zone Act that protects the livelihoods of fishermen, coastal and marine ecology in consultation with fishing communities.

Demarcated areas

Boloor also said that the new draft National Policy on Mariculture 2018 by the Union government will have serious consequences to the fishing community and marine ecology. The policy has mooted mariculture zones by demarcating special areas in the sea for activities such as cage farming, bivalve farming, pen culture, seaweed culture, hatcheries and nurseries.

The draft policy aims to lease out special zones in the sea to private entities to cultivate marine organism in an enclosure in the open sea. The policy will lead to the entry of corporates into the sector, which, in turn, will be a loss of livelihood to the local fishermen. The policy also suggests farming of genetically modified species in closed mariculture systems, which is dangerous to the fishing environment in the sea, he pointed.