Kendrapara, October 19 (LocalWire): The fishing community in Odisha has decided to oppose the forthcoming Indian Marine Fisheries (Regulation and Management) Bill, 2019 of the union government.
According to the Odisha Traditional Fish Workers Union (OTFWU), the proposed bill has several provisions that will create problems for the traditional fishermen to fish in the sea as big mechanized fishing vessels of corporate houses will get fishing right in the sea.
The new bill aims to bring the jurisdiction of territorial waters under the control of the central government.
Addressing the media- persons at Kendrapara on Saturday OTFWU president Prasana Behera said that the new bill was anti-traditional fishermen and pro-big fishing companies.
Marine fishermen are the natural custodians of the coastal natural resources, but big corporate companies and businessmen will benefit from this bill.
“We will not remain silent on this bill that has been prepared without consultation with us.
The Act must be prepared through the open process after consulting the coastal fishing communities and concerned citizens, and it should be based on scientific, environmental and social principles with the aim to protect both coastal natural resources and sustainable livelihood practices dependent on those resources,” Behera stated.
He also called upon the state government to convene a meeting of fishermen organisations, boat owners, scientists, and other stakeholders to discuss the new restrictions proposed by the central government under the new Bill.
“As per the earlier Act, the maritime states in the country had the right to manage and regulate fishing activities in the territorial waters extending up to 12 nautical miles from the coast.
However, the new bill proposes to consider the whole exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the country, which extends up to 200 nautical miles, as territorial waters,” Behera said.
By enacting this bill, the central government is trying to snatch the rights of traditional fishermen to fish in territorial waters and allow the corporate to fish in the sea, he alleged.
As per the bill, fisherfolk, including those owning country fishing boats have to take a licence from the union government only if they want to fish beyond 12 nautical miles in the sea.
However, under the new act, the state government will not have the power to issue the fishing permit and licence to fishing boats.
The centre will snatch the rights, which is against the principles of federalism, he said.
The draft bill has given the powers to the state government to manage the fisheries in the territorial waters up to 12 nautical miles and the central government to manage the fisheries in the exclusive economic zones (EEZ).
These two separate management regimes for the territorial waters and the EEZ are neither realistic nor meaningful, Behera stated.
OTFWU has also opposed the cage culture and mariculture as it is threatening the livelihood of fishermen who eke out a living by fishing in the rivers and sea.
Planting of cages for culturing on the seashores obstruct the movement of traditional fishermen boats, he said.