Press Release 4, November 2008
Save the Coasts; Save the Sea; Save the Fishworkers
National Fishworkers’ Forum demands scrapping of Coastal Management Zone (CMZ)
NFF and its allied state level Fishworkers Trade Unions have started a four day agitation in Delhi on 4th November 2008. The Dharna; Delhi Chalo agitation’s final phase was inaugurated by the Chairperson of NFF, Shri. Harekrishna Debnath, in the presence of former Union Minister for Environment and Forest, Shri. Suresh Prabhu, MP and several other leaders of NFF.
Shri. Harekrishna demanded the UPA government to immediately withdraw the CMZ Notification and to implement the CRZ Notification of 1991 or face the wrath of a million fishworkers, spreading across all the coastal states. Speaking on the inaugural function, Shri. Suresh Prabhu reminded the UPA Government that the campaign for waiver of farmer’s debt included that of the traditional fishworkers and hence demanded a waiver of loans of fishworkers, who are in deep debt and crisis.
NFF demand to GoI include:
- · Withdraw the draft Coastal Management Zone (CMZ) Notification and implement Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Notification 1991
- · Stop privatization of marine and inland water bodies and the coastal zone – enact appropriate legislation to protect traditional fisher peoples’ preferential access and inalienable customary rights to coastal and marine resources
- · Enact comprehensive fisheries legislation for the EEZ
- · Cancel all letters of permit (LoP) given to foreign vessels for fishing in our waters
- · Stop import of fish that threatens the livelihood of fisher people
- · Lift ban on small-scale fishermen using sustainable gears and protect traditional livelihood
- · Provide livelihood assistance on Kerosene and diesel for sustainable fishing
- · Enact National Law to extend benefits of ILO convention to all fish workers
- · Enact and implement the Unorganized Workers’ Social Security Bill
- · GoI to secure release of Indian fishermen and fishing boats captured by Pakistan and Sri Lanka
- · Waive debts of fisher people along with the farmers
More than five hundred fishworkers from all the coastal states of India are part of this agitation in Jantar Mantar, Delhi, demanding protection of the coast and their traditional rights.
The Indian coasts, its traditional people and the coastal ecosystem are facing a crisis like never before. The traditional protectors of the sea and the coast, the fishworkers, are being thrown out of their habitats. The sea and the coastal areas are being pledged to vested interests and commercial establishments including foreign and domestic companies. Existing protection mechanisms like Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ, since 1991) are being violated and sabotaged to cater to the interest of hoteliers and industrial units. To further damage this fragile situation, the Government of India is bring in a new notification titled ‘Coastal Management Zone’ (CMZ), in line with the Swaminathan Committee Recommendations. The draft CMZ Notification of the Ministry of Environment and Forests is all set to bulldoze traditional and customary rights of the fishing community over the coastal zone. If implemented, the CMZ will disrupt the lives and livelihood of 3202 fishing villages across the 8000 km long coastline of India.
Fisher people conducted a national campaign titled Machhimar Adhikar Rashtriya Abhiyan along the coastline of the country from Jakhau, Gujarat to Kolkata, West Bengal from 1st May 2008 under the aegis of National Fishworkers’ Forum (NFF). As a culmination of the national campaign, more than five hundred fishermen and women from the coastal states have reached Delhi on 3rd November 2008 to put pressure on Government of India, with their Charter of Demands. Several agitation programmes side by side with a mass dharna at Jantar Mantar will take place from 4th to 7th November 2008 including a public meeting at the Constitution Club on 5th November afternoon are being planned by NFF.
In support of NFF agitation in Delhi – Delhi Solidarity Group. Contacts: 9868165471 / 9868066195 / 26680914