Press Release 5, November 2008
Fishworkers demand withdrawal of CMZ Notification
“Land is ours, Sea is ours and the right to access is ours! We declare that this is what we will give to our next generation.”
—— Freesca, Fishworker from Trivandrum, Kerala
Condemning the MoEF and the UPA government for trying to push through the draft Costal Management Zone Notification (CMZ), the Fishworkers demanded its withdrawal and implementation of the earlier CRZ notification at the National Meeting of Fishworkers held on November 5, 2008 at the Constitution Club, New Delhi. Speakers included Abani Roy (MP Rajya Sabha), Surendra Mohan (Senior Political Leader and ex-MP), R.A. Mital (National Secretary, Hind Mazdoor Sabha), Manju Menon (Kalpavriksh, an environmental organisation), Ingrid Christensen (Senior Specialist on Occupational Health and Safety, ILO), J John (Centre for Education and Communication – a labour support organisation), Harekrishna Debnath, Chairperson (National Fishworkers Forum) and other fishworkers leaders from various Parts of India.
Speaking in the meeting, Abani Roy slammed the UPA Government for betraying the workers and especially the fishworkers whose coast is now being snatched from them. He said that the struggle of fishworkers must go on and the trade unions will always support the struggle of fishworkers. R.A. Mital pointed out that an ILO convention on Work in Fishing is not enough. It is essential to have in place a national legislation to extend the benefits of the convention to all the fishworkers. He also stressed that it is important to understand how can fishers access the benefits of social security, particularly in the context of the proposed unorganised sector social security bill all set to become a law. Ingrid Christensen noted that the ILO convention on Work in fishing sector aims to promote and realise standards and fundamental principles and rights at work. J. John stressed on the need for social security of the unorganised sector workers, in the larger context of increasing gulf between the rich and the poor due to globalisation. Surendra Mohan said that the government has hardly given any benefits to fishworkers and is further tying to take away their access to livelihood. Manju Menon reminded the MoEF that the CMZ notification has far reaching implications on livelihood of traditional fishers. There are issues related to its implementation which are impossible to resolve. It cannot be corrected and has to be totally rejected.
The meeting was held by NFF with support from Centre for Education and Communication and Delhi Solidarity Group. It was held as part of the Fisherpeoples’ Action in Delhi which marks the culmination of the Machimar Adhikar Rashtriya Abhiyan.
NFF demands to Government 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.
Vasundhara Jairath Pallavi Mansingh Jibin Robin Bipin Rai
In support of NFF agitation in Delhi – Delhi Solidarity Group. Contacts: 9868165471 / 9868066195 / 26680914