Thursday, 17 October 2019

Problems faced by small scale fishing communities in Goa’s rivers




                                                                                                      Date: 17th October 2019

To,

Rohita R. Naik,
Superintendent of Fisheries,
Panjim, Goa.

Subject : Your letter dated 11/10/2019 with subject Problems faced by small scale fishing communities in Goa’s rivers

Dear Rohita,

Thank you for your above mentioned letter asking for details of documents [Vessel Registration Certificate (VRC), Fishing Vessel Licences, Fishing Net Licence Book] of fishermen facing problems due to water sports activities by Aquasail Distribution in response to our letter to the Fisheries Minister dated 26/08/2019.

All the fishermen in Odxel, Siridao, Cacra and Nauxim using motorized canoes are facing the problem. Now till November 02, 2019 they are busy preparing for Public Hearing on Nauxim AHOY Marina that promises to increase water sports boats in Zuari and disrupting the fishing completely several times more than Aquasail Distribution.

Therefore you are requested to access documents from Fisheries department records as they were issued by your office as it is macro problem affecting all the fishermen and fisher communities.Alternatively you can visit all these villages and hold consultations to know about the matter. If needed, we will facilitate the visits. However make sure that NOC are not issued to Aqua sail this year. You may check the department records when Director Shamila Monteiro had revoked NOC to Aquasail distribution and restored after nine months due to Political pressure from then Chief Minister late Manohar Parrikar.

Sharing important study abstracts for your information on the subject: 10.5 of SSF Guidelines that requires implementation of holistic and inclusive ecosystem approaches in the fisheries sector. Approach in locating Aquasail boats in Zuari river is not holistic, its not inclusive and it is hostile to ecosystem. A.K. Whitfield from South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity, South Africa and A. Becker from School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia has jointly published their study titled “Impact of recreational motor boats on fishes : A Review” in Marine Pollution Bulletin Vol. 83 pages 24-31 in 2014. Sharing abstract their study to harm Marina boats and water sports boats could cause to biology and ecology of fish: “A considerable amount of research has been conducted on the impacts of recreational boating activities on fishes but little or no synthesis of the information has been undertaken. This review shows that motor boats impact on the biology and ecology of fishes but the effects vary according to the species and even particular size classes. Direct hits on fishes by propellers are an obvious impact but this aspect has been poorly documented. Alterations in the wave climate and water turbidity may also influence fishes and their habitats, especially submerged and emergent plant beds. Sound generated by boat motors can also influence the communication and behaviour of certain species. Pollution arising from fuel spillages, exhaust emissions and antifouling paints all have detrimental effects on fishes. Finally, the use of recreational boats as vectors of aquatic invasive organisms is very real and has created major problems to the ecology of aquatic systems.”

Further Sofia Jain-Schlaepfer, Eric Fakan, Jodie L. Rummer, Mark I. McCormick from ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, and College of Science and Engineering, James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland 4811, Australia together with Stephen D. Simpson from Biosciences, College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Exeter, Geoffrey Pope, Stocker Road, Exeter EX4 4QD, UK has published their joint study titled “Impact of motorboats on fish embryos depends on engine type” in a Journal named Conservation Physiology Volume 6, 2018. Abstract of their study is reproduced and worth noting as to what could be the impact of motorboats that aquasail distribution attracts in Zuari and resultant impact on marine ecology. “Human generated noise is changing the natural underwater soundscapes worldwide. The most pervasive sources of  underwater anthropogenic noise are motorboats, which have been found to negatively affect several aspects of fish biology. However, few studies have examined the effects of noise on early life stages, especially the embryonic stage, despite embryo health being critical to larval survival and recruitment. Here, we used a novel setup to monitor heart rates of embryos from the staghorn damselfish (Amblyglyphidodon curacao) in shallow reef conditions, allowing us to examine the effects of in situ boat noise in context with real-world exposure. We found that the heart rate of embryos increased in the presence of boat noise, which can be associated with the stress response. Additionally, we found 2-stroke outboard-powered boats had more than twice the effect on embryo heart rates than did 4-stroke powered boats, showing an increase in mean individual heart rate of 1.9% and 4.6%, respectively. To our knowledge this is the first evidence suggesting boat noise elicits a stress response in fish embryo and highlights the need to explore the ecological ramifications of boat noise stress during the embryo stage. Also, knowing the response of marine organisms caused by the sound emissions of particular engine types provides an important tool for reef managers to mitigate noise pollution.” In this context water sports installation in Zuari river is a major set back to ecosystem approach advocated for fisheries. Goa Government through Fisheries department has commissioned study in Zuari river to find out impact of water sports boats on marine ecology and on fishing activities but study is delayed by one year due to lack of finance and file is pending in the Goa Finance Ministry for so long. It is safe to conclude from the way state of affairs are that Goa Government is sabotaging prosperity of small scale fishing activities in a planed manner and we strongly condemn this attitude of Goa Government.

Thanking you,

Yours Sincerely,

        Sd/-

Maggie Silveira
President, Goa State

Objections to holding of Public Hearing for setting up AHOY Marina in Zuari River at Nauxim waterfront


Date: 17th October 2019
To,
The Collector (North Goa),
Panjim, Goa

Subject: Objections to holding of Public Hearing for setting up AHOY Marina in Zuari River at Nauxim waterfront.

Dear Madam/Sir,

We had submitted letter to your office on 01/03/2019 objecting proposed public hearing on marinas in Zuari river. In this letter we re-iterate our opposition to fresh notice from Goa State Pollution Control Board declaring Public Hearing for setting up of “AHOY Marina” at Nauxim on 02/11/2019 at 10.30 am at Shyama Prasad Mukherjee indoor Stadium near Goa University as per advertisement from Goa State Pollution Control Board dated 25/09/2019 signed by Member secretary Sanjeev S. Joglekar. As per this advertisement in media District Magistrate or her/his representative is to supervise the entire Public Hearing Process. Hence we address this letter to you.

We object the holding of above mentioned Public hearing on the following grounds:

1.     Coastal Zone Management Plan (CZMP) preparation end only on November 05, 2019 and it is inappropriate to install project of Marina in Nauxim before the completion of CZMP.

2.     Location of the Marina is fish breeding/spawning site as well fishing site for several fishers on Zuari river bank specially in villages of Nauxim, Bambolim, Siridao, Odxel, and Cacra. Location of AHOY Marina is in violation of international law governing fisheries world wide. From July 2014 India is a signatory to Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries in the context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication. These are known as SSF Guidelines and are made enforceable in India via Article 54 of the National Policy on Marine Fisheries, 2017. SSF Guidelines are applicable in scope to both marine as well as inland waters as per its para 2.2. And so they are applicable to Zuari river as well. According to para 1.1.c SSF Guidelines are to function in consistent with Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, 1995 for which India is a signatory too. AHOY Marina location is in violation of this Code. Article 6.8 of this Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries states “All critical fisheries habitats in marine and fresh water ecosystems, such as wetlands, mangroves, reefs, lagoons, nursery and spawning areas, should be protected and rehabilitated as far as possible and where necessary. Particular effort should be made to protect such habitats from destruction, degradation, pollution and other significant impacts resulting from human activities that threaten the health and viability of the fishery resources.” Destruction of Nauxim famous fish spawning area itself is site for AHOY Marina that will be subjected to heavy drilling and blasting of the purpose of dredging as per the draft EIA report leading to major long term negative irreversible impact on fisheries in Zuari river. Hence this constitutes violation of Article 6.8 of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries.

3.     The Jurisdictions of MPT over Zuari waters is disputed as Central government circular of 24th May 2000 was issued without consulting fishing communities of Zuari river as well without consulting Goa Government.

4.     The representative of Goa Government Dr. Modassir (PA to Secretary – Ports) was absent for the 8th September 2010 meeting MPT 24th Board of Trustees when it decided to rent out Zuari river for two marinas at Sancoale and Nauxim. Dr. Modassir had sent note top postpone this matter as it is important as per records in the minutes of this meeting.

5.     Lease deed of 12th October 2010 between MPT and Kargwal constructions does not acknowledge the existence of fishing communities depend upon fishing in Zuari river and need to safeguard their rights.

6.     Port Land Policy -under which Zuari river has been leased out - was never discussed with fishing communities of Zuari river before its formulation nor shared after formulating. So there was complete non-transparency in this matter and leasing our of water fronts at Nauxim admeasuring more than 1,50,000 square meters of river bed amounts to land grab and Blue grab and contrary to claims of Blue-Green enterprise in Chapter III of the Draft EIA.

7.     In-Principle approval dated 29/04/2015 granted by Goa Investment Promotion Board to Kargwal Construction Pvt Ltd to set up Marina near Nauxim village –annexed with draft EIA report - is a fraud in several respects. First there is no ecologist who is a member of Goa Investment Promotion Board. Second there is no fisher community member who is engaged in fishing on Goa Investment Promotion Board. Thirdly, local people from Nauxim were not consulted at all by Investment Promotion Board before granting in-principle approval. Fourthly, after granting in-principle approval for Marina the decision was not communicated to Nauxim people or to Curca-Bambolim Panchayat under whose Jurisdiction Nauxim village comes.  Fifthly, In-principle approval decision was conveyed to the Village Panchayat of Cortalim that has no Jurisdiction over Nauxim village. Chief Minister of Goa who is chairman of this Board should call for immediate meeting and revoke the in-principle approval granted. Sixthly as per draft EIA report (Chapter III) “A marina is a harbour for yachts and other luxury boats and it is becoming a necessity of luxury tourism.” Such large scale projects destroying fishing practices cannot be imposed in a fishing village. According to para 6.8 of SSF Guidelines only community based tourism is allowed.

8.     Draft EIA on AHOY Marina admits significant fishing activity at the site of proposed AHOY Marina. Careful reading of Tables 5.2 (Coefficient values for impact assessment) and 5.3 (Impact quantifications) on pages 5.9 and 5.10 indicate with certainty that Fisheries in Zuari River will have Major permanent long term irreversible negative impact of coefficient of double (-2).

9.     Fisheries are entry 21 in the State List of Schedule 7 under Article 246 of the Constitution of India. Union Government through its Surface Transport Ministry, Shipping Department though MPT has no Jurisdiction to interfere and destroy Fisheries in the State of Goa within 12 nautical miles territorial limits. Any interference amounts to violation of Article 246 of the Constitution of India.

10.                        Draft EIA report on AHOY Marina commits to follow PIANC/IAPH guidelines for construction of Marina facility. Guidelines of World Organization of Dredging Organizations (WODA). At the same time ignores SSF Guidelines on small scale fisheries to which India is a signatory from July 2014 and pledged its enforcement through Article 54 of the National Policy on Marine Fisheries, 2017. According to SSF Guidelines that stands for “Voluntary Guidelines for securing sustainable small-scale fisheries in the context of food security and poverty eradication” has a provision to hold accountable to those who are responsible for destruction of fisheries as AHOY Marina is a disaster for fishing in Zuari river. According to para 9.5 of SSF Guidelines “in case of disasters caused by humans,impacting small-scale fisheries, the responsibleparty should be held accountable.” In the case of Nauxim AHOY Marina it is Union Surface Transport Ministry and its subsidiary MPT together with Kargwal Constructions pvt Ltd is a responsible party that will be held accountable for willful destruction of Zuari river fisheries. It is willful destruction as it is indicated in draft EIA itself.

11.                        According to the draft EIA report (page 4.78)villagers of Nauxim, Odxel and Kakra are primarily Shudra. This word Shudra means slaves. This word does not exists in the Constitution of India but found in Manushmriti that rates Shudra communities to the lowest in the hierarchy of graded inequality without any right to education and social interactions restricted within caste boundaries subjected to untouchability as Shudra is held unworthy even to lift body of a dead brahmin. Only duty of Shudra is to be servants of Brahmins, Kshatriyas and Vyashas. System of graded inequality as well as untouchability is made redundant by Constitution of India though Articles 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, and 21 which are the Fundamental Rights that cannot be suspended. Use of the word Shudra suspends these Fundamental Rights. If classification of section of people as Shudra is allowed in official documents like this draft EIA then every one will have to clarify whether he or she belongs to Shudra Varna or Brahmin Varna or Vyashya Varna or Kshatriya Varna. This is ridiculous practice and can snowball into unpredictable consequences of social disorder.

12.                        Location of AHOY Marina in Nauxi water is direct contradiction of SSF Guidelines para 5.9 which states that “States should ensure that small-scale fishing communities are not arbitrarily evicted and that their legitimate tenure rights are not otherwise extinguished or infringed. States should recognize that competition from other users is increasing within small-scale fisheries areas and that small-scale fishing communities, in particular vulnerable and marginalized groups, are often the weaker party in conflicts with other sectors and may require special support if their livelihoods are threatened by the development and activities of other sectors.” Tenure rights of small scale fishers are going to be extinguished and that’s reason why package is included in the draft EIA report in Chapter II.

13.                        AHOY Marina location is also in violation of para 5.13 of the SSF Guidelines that states States and all those engaged in fisheries management should adoptmeasures for the long-term conservation and sustainable use of fisheries resources and to secure the ecological foundation for food production. They should promote and implement appropriate  Management systems, consistent with their existing obligations under national and international law and voluntary commitments, including the Code, that give due recognition to the requirements and opportunities of small-scale fisheries”. Goa’s Fisheries department has refrained from enforcing SSF Guidelines, the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, Voluntary Guidelines on Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security and other international legal instruments applicable to Fisheries. If these were enforced then Goa Fisheries department would have quickly objected the Marina project at Nauxim at the planning stage itself rather than compel public to enter into the phase of public protests and agitations on this issue. Equitable access to fisheries guaranteed under para 5.13 would have never been allowed to be blocked though plans of installing Marina in Nauxim bay.

14.                        Nauxim AHOY Marina, the way it has planned is in complete violation of para 5.17 of SSF Guidelines that states “All endeavours should be made so that small-scale fisheries are represented in relevant local and national professional associations and fisheries bodies and actively take part in relevant decision-making and fisheries policymaking processes.” All the impact of the AHOY Marina will be directly felt by small scale fisheries in Nauxim, Siridao, Agassaim, Goa Velha, Bambolim, Cacra, Odxel and other villages on the northern bank of Zuari river as well as villages and towns in Southern banks of Zuari river. Yet in none of the decision making bodies connected Nauxim AHOY Marina small scale fisheries were represented at MoEF Expert committee, Board of Trustees at MPT, Goa Investment Promotion Board, Union Ministry of Surface Transport and Goa Fisheries department. Goa Fisheries department is so archaic in functioning that it does not have information as to who is at the receiving end of the water sports in Zuari river after fishermen repeatedly filed complains complaining about water sports boats tearing their fishing nets, creating oil spills and prompting fish migration due to non-stop engine sound in the river near Nauxim-Bambolim. It has taken no steps to form strategy group to enforce SSF guidelines as per requirement under para 13.5 for the Development and application of implementation strategies for the Guidelines.

15.                        Nauxim AHOY Marina is in violation of para 10.5 of SSF Guidelines that requires implementation of holistic and inclusive ecosystem approaches in the fisheries sector. Approach in locating Marina is not holistic, its not inclusive and it is hostile to ecosystem. A.K. Whitfield from South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity, South Africa and A. Becker from School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia has jointly published their study titled “Impact of recreational motor boats on fishes : A Review” in Marine Pollution Bulletin Vol. 83 pages 24-31 in 2014. Sharing abstract their study to harm Marina boats and water sports boats could cause to biology and ecology of fish: “A considerable amount of research has been conducted on the impacts of recreational boating activities on fishes but little or no synthesis of the information has been undertaken. This review shows that motor boats impact on the biology and ecology of fishes but the effects vary according to the species and even particular size classes. Direct hits on fishes by propellers are an obvious impact but this aspect has been poorly documented. Alterations in the wave climate and water turbidity may also influence fishes and their habitats, especially submerged and emergent plant beds. Sound generated by boat motors can also influence the communication and behaviour of certain species. Pollution arising from fuel spillages, exhaust emissions and antifouling paints all have detrimental effects on fishes. Finally, the use of recreational boats as vectors of aquatic invasive organisms is very real and has created major problems to the ecology of aquatic systems.”Further Sofia Jain-Schlaepfer, Eric Fakan, Jodie L. Rummer, Mark I. McCormick from ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, and College of Science and Engineering, James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland 4811, Australia together with Stephen D. Simpson from Biosciences, College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Exeter, Geoffrey Pope, Stocker Road, Exeter EX4 4QD, UK has published their joint study titled “Impact of motorboats on fish embryos depends on engine type” in a Journal named Conservation Physiology Volume 6, 2018. Abstract of their study is reproduced and worth noting as to what could be the impact of motorboats that Marina likely to attract in Zuari and resultant impact on marine ecology. “Human generated noise is changing the natural underwater soundscapes worldwide. The most pervasive sources of  underwater anthropogenic noise are motorboats, which have been found to negatively affect several aspects of fish biology. However, few studies have examined the effects of noise on early life stages, especially the embryonic stage, despite embryo health being critical to larval survival and recruitment. Here, we used a novel setup to monitor heart rates of embryos from the staghorn damselfish (Amblyglyphidodon curacao) in shallow reef conditions, allowing us to examine the effects of in situ boat noise in context with real-world exposure. We found that the heart rate of embryos increased in the presence of boat noise, which can be associated with the stress response. Additionally, we found 2-stroke outboard-powered boats had more than twice the effect on embryo heart rates than did 4-stroke powered boats, showing an increase in mean individual heart rate of 1.9% and 4.6%, respectively. To our knowledge this is the first evidence suggesting boat noise elicits a stress response in fish embryo and highlights the need to explore the ecological ramifications of boat noise stress during the embryo stage. Also, knowing the response of marine organisms caused by the sound emissions of particular engine types provides an important tool for reef managers to mitigate noise pollution.” In this context Marina installation in Zuari river is going to be major set back to ecosystem approach advocated for fisheries. Goa Government through Fisheries department has commissioned study in Zuari river to find out impact of water sports boats on marine ecology and on fishing activities but study is delayed by one year due to lack of finance and file is pending in the Goa Finance Ministry for so long. It is safe to conclude from the way state of affairs are that Goa Government is sabotaging prosperity of small scale fishing activities in a planed manner and we strongly condemn this attitude of Goa Government.

Bharat Mukti Morcha, Goa Unit strongly condemns this draft EIA report and call for immediate cancellation of Public Hearing.
Thanking you in anticipation,

Yours sincerely,
       Sd/-
Maggie Silveira

President, Goa Unit

Member of National Council, National Platform for Small Scale Fish Worker (Inland)

Copy to:
Director of Fisheries, Panjim, Goa with a request to follow up and object Nauxim AHOY Marina as well as its Public Hearing




Tuesday, 17 September 2019

Objections to the proposal to grant Blue Flag notification to Miramar beach, Panjim, Goa

To,

R. Menaka,
Collector (North Goa)
Panjim, Goa

17:09:2019

Subject: Objections to the proposal to grant Blue Flag notification to Miramar beach, Panjim, Goa.

Dear Madam,

We have come to know from media that you convened stakeholders meeting regarding proposal of the Indian Minister of Environment and Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) to declare around 12 beaches of India from Blue Flag certification; one of them being Goa's Miramar beach in Panjim. We have read the notification (http://www.indiaenvironmentportal.org.in/files/file/NOTIFICATION-FOR-BLUE-FLAG-CERTIFICATION.pdfof the central government in this regard and are shocked to note that variety of construction and other interference will be allowed on all these beaches.

We write to object this proposal of Blue Flag certification as in reality it is a red flag of danger and insecurity to the several hundred fishers residing near the beach and  use this beach for fish landing purpose as well as use Mandovi river, Arabian Sea as well as Zuari river for small scale fishing purpose.

This notification is totally in violation of SSF guidelines (http://www.fao.org/3/a-i4356en.pdf) that India signed in 2014 in order to provide security to small scale fishers in India. Further this notification is also against  National Policy on Marine Fisheries, 2017 (http://dadf.gov.in/sites/default/filess/National%20Policy%20on%20Marine%20Fisheries%202017_0.pdf) that has pledged to implement the SSF Guidelines through Article 54.

This notification of Blue Flag notification is also in violation of  NATIONAL INLAND FISHERIES AND AQUACULTURE POLICY 2019 (http://nfdb.gov.in/PDF/Draft%20National%20Inland%20Fisheries%20&%20Aquaculture%20Policy%20(NIFAP).pdf) that pledges to implement SSF Guidelines via article 3.3.1.10.

It is indeed a matter of great concern to us to note that Goa Government has not taken any steps to set up high powered committee to over see the strategy to implement SSF Guidelines to protect fishing, fishers and good health of Rivers, Seas and all other water bodies used for fishing but instead are going about pushing projects like Blue Flag certification in order to give spaces to tourism at the cost of livelihood of fishing communities. This is wrong step and must be stopped. Fishing communities are already facing several challenges and hardships due to non-implementation of monitoring mechanism contained in SSF guidelines (https://sandrp.in/2019/05/02/surest-way-to-defeat-solastalgia-zuari-river-fishing-community/)

There is no place for projects like Blue Flag certification in SSF guidelines. Only place is for community based tourism with zero role to corporate handling of tourism. Hence we write to you to convey to the Indian Ministry of Environment and Forest and Climate Change to drop the case of Miramar Beach in order to keep small scale fishers without hardships due to this blue grab.

SSF Guidelines calls for integral management of coast involving fishing communities. In this regard we commend you for calling the meeting on September 14, 2019 at Goa Science Center, Panjim. However we request you to call for larger meeting with advanced notice of at least 15 days so that people can be informed properly and called for the hearing.

We also would like to inform you that even Denmark from where Blue Flag standards are set has been the signatory to SSF guidelines and in order to  conserve, protect and improve the quality of environment and preventing, controlling and abating environmental pollution SSF Guidelines must be enforced and implemented all over Goa and India too. This will ensure that fishers of the coast are not evicted or their tenure rights in fishing are not trampled upon. For this purpose of enforcing SSF guidelines we pledge our support and co-operation whole heatedly.

Thanking you,
Sd/-
Yours sincerely,
Sebastiao Rodrigues

(Mobile: 9923336347)

Member, National Council, National Platform for Small Scale Fish Workers (Inland),

Convener, Goa State, Bharat Mukti Morcha 

Vice-President, Dialogue, Empathic Engagement & Peacebuilding (DEEP) Network - India

Researcher, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, BITS Pilani, Goa Campus, Goa.


Sunday, 8 September 2019

Harassment by PSI Edwin Dias of Old Goa Police Station

Today September 09, 2019 at 10.15 am Police Sub Inspector (PSI) Edwin Dias was involved in harassing people traveling from Pillar to Old Goa by fining them saying "No Entry". There is no arrow seen which can be visible to Public. In spite of  whole team hiding and waiting to fine the public there is no single police personnel kept for giving directions. PSI Edwin Dias says "from my salary money will be cut if police does not fine public". PSI Edwin also said "let me be transferred as early as possible." Police must properly direct the People by proper traffic arrangement so that people are not misguided and pay the fine. Is it such a pitiful situation that government cut police monthly salary if they don't harass public? Should bad road scenes be abused by police as money collection centers for their political bosses?

The roads in Old Goa are in such a misery when so much of money is coming from Central government for maintaining highways. Repair the roads which are in disaster scene and save the public life. Public harassment by Goa Police must stop.

Maggie Silveira
President, Goa State 

Sunday, 18 August 2019

Abuse of Coastal Security Police Station at Harbour, Vasco to harass and intimidate Gillnet fishers in Zuari River


Date: 16/08/2019

To,

The Chief Minister,
Government of Goa,
Secretariat, Porvorim,
Goa

Subject: Abuse of Coastal Security Police Station at Harbour, Vasco to harass and intimidate Gillnet fishers in Zuari River

Dear Mr. Chief Minister Dr. Pramod Sawant,

Greetings of Peace!

As you are already aware of the complaints of illegal fishing in Zuari river by Trawlers and Purse seine fishing boats we write to inform you about the abuse of Harbour Coastal Security Police Station, Vasco to harass and intimidate the Zuari River fishing communities by registering fictitious criminal cases and registering charge-sheet and forwarding the to Sub-Divisional Magistrate, Vasco as well as Judicial Magistrate First Class A at Vasco.

Coastal Security Police whose actual mandate is to stop illegal fishing but its actions are directed to intimidate those small scale fishers involved in complaining about various threats to fishing from water sports, purse seine boats, trawlers, marinas, and many more. Criminalization of small-scale fishers has been initiated through State starting litigation against two leaders of the small scale fishers named Sanjay Pereira of Cacra and Cosmo Pires of Siridao one in January 2019 and another in July 2019. 

In 2018 Harbour coastal security police station through Police Sub-Inspector Therron Dcosta initiated the Chapter case no. 01/2018 under section 145 of Code of Criminal Procedure in the Court of Hon’ble Sub-Divisional Magistrate Vasco with two Fisheries officers of the Directorate of Fisheries, Panjim as witnesses. Section 145 of Code of Criminal Procedure empowers Executive Magistrate to interfere in the disputes on land and water that may lead to breach of Peace. Fishers had to pay the Lawyer to appear before the Court of Sub-Divisional Magistrate and subsequent hearings. 

To add to this ongoing case Harbour Coastal Security Police Station moved the same case in the Court of Judicial Magistrate First Class at (A), Vasco-da-Gama and summons were issued under section 61 of Code of Criminal Procedure bearing the seal of the Court to the two accused fisheries leaders of the Zuari River Gill net fishers. Summons served by Police officer asked the two fishers to appear before the Court in person and the court summons state that they are charged under section 143, 147, 148, 323, 324, 341, 504, 506(ii), 384, 511 read with 149 of Indian Penal Code (IPC). They were called for the hearing on August 3, 2019 in the Court. 

It must be noted that this criminalizing attempt is against the leadership of the fishers even though none of the two ever had been arrested in this matter. They are asked to keep the surety worth deposit of Rs.5000/- in the Court. This matter is of September 2018 and surety is asked to be kept in the Court after a period of one year. Normal procedure is to keep the surety at the time of arrest but both the fishers were never arrested and case was registered at Harbour Police Station without any of them being placed under arrests and subsequent bail. They were not arrested anticipating major public uproar and mounting public pressure on State administration.

This criminalizing need further analysis of the criminal provision invoked to so. Section 143 of IPC deals with Punishment for unlawful assembly involved imprisonment up to six months or fine, or both. It is not known as to how the two persons constituted unlawful assembly when the definition of unlawful assembly according to section 141 involves five or more persons. Two people cannot be designated as forming unlawful assembly. The invocation of section 143 is clear indication that the charges are levied to criminalize even though there are no grounds to do so.

Section 147 deals with Punishment for rioting extending up to two years or fine or both. Interestingly Rioting is defined under Section 146 as violence used by an unlawful assembly. Above analysis indicates that two people cannot form unlawful assembly. The invocation of Section 147 is malafide with intention of suppressing expressions of the gillnet fishers of Zuari river. The above two Sections 143 and 147 are not applicable for two persons.

The third section 148 applied is more serious non-compoundable means complaining party cannot withdraw the same and is triable by Magistrate of the first class. It is section that deals with rioting, armed with deadly weapon or anything used as weapon and likely to cause death punishable with imprisonment up to 3 years or with fine or both. State by imposing this section 148, aims to prove that the fisher leaders are anti-social elements all out to destroy peace in society by re-interpreting their engagement with Justice Issues in Zuari River. Since this section is triable only by Magistrate Court fishers will be compelled to incur cost of litigation without escape. This is merely harassment tactic as it is a normal practice that Justice Delays is a rule in Indian Courts rather than an exception. One case lingers for any duration between 5 years to 10 years. How much costs fishers will have to incur to contest financially including lawyer fees and mental tensions besides the fact that Justice delayed is Justice denied?

The fourth section invoked of IPC is Section 323 deals with Punishment for voluntarily causing hurt that extends to one year or fine of Rupees one thousand or with both. This is the case of unprovoked hurt. Harbour Coastal Police has attempted to prove that fisher leaders of Zuari fishers are maniacs that derive pleasure from causing hurt voluntarily even without anyone provoking them. It appears a ground to inflict State violence on fishers by spreading this impression of violence mongers on fisher leaders.

The fifth Section 324 invoked deals with voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means is non-compoundable and triable by Magistrate. This section carries punishment of three years imprisonment or fine or both. State tried to paint fisher leaders as dreaded goons all out to kill people when actually they are rising ecological, Peace, Justice and Public Health issues. Imposition of this section is nothing more than propaganda against small scale fisher initiative which is unbecoming of the State.

Sixth Section 341 involved punishment for wrongful restraint of any person extending imprisonment of one month or fine of five hundred Rupees or both. This section is compoundable and is triable by Magistrate. State by booking fisher leaders of Zuari under Section 341 is attempting to prove that they unnecessarily stopping people in their ways. This is certainly not true and the case is filed only for the reasons of harassing gillnet fishers with likely nexus with nefarious powerful elements who cannot tolerate fishers asserting in defense of ecological health of Zuari River.

Seventh invoked section 504 against the fisher leaders is deals with causing intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace. Punishment for this offence extends up to two years or fine, or with both. This is compoundable and triable by Magistrate. Any expression furthering Justice can be interpreted as offence under Section 504. In a way State has attempted to communicate to the Zuari fishers that they should not speak out against purse seine boats as well as trawler frequently carrying on illegal fishing in Zuari. Imposition of this section is an attempt at gagging. 

Eight Section 506(ii) deals with Punishment for criminal intimidation when threat is to cause death or grievous hurt imprisonment extending up to seven years: invocation of this section on fisher leaders indicate that State intends to create fear and panic amongst fishers of Zuari instead of resolving the nagging problems threatening Zuari river fishery including water sports, marinas, purse seine fishing, trawling and many more.

Ninth Section 384 invoked deals with Punishment for extortion extending for the period of three years or fine or with both. State intends to brand Gillnet fishers of Zuari River as extortionists all out to demand ransoms. This is another way of painting two Gillnet fisher leaders negatively in public thereby defaming the movement of fishers in defense of Zuari river ecology. Offence under section 384 is non-compoundable and triable by any Magistrate.

Tenth Section 511 invoked deals with Punishment for attempting to commit offences punishable with imprisonment for life or other imprisonment. This punishment is flexible for the failed attempts to crime and involved half the period of imprisonment had the attempt to commit such offence was successful. Here State is unsure if fisher have really succeeded in committing any offence as it suspect that the attempt of fishers to commit an offence has been a failure. Nevertheless State desires to punish the fishers of Zuari River. This attitude reflects sadist mindset of the State machinery in operation governing Rivers and Fisheries in Goa.

Eleventh Section 149 invoked holds every member of an unlawful assembly guilty of offence committed in prosecution of common object. This again is completely misplaced as definition of Unlawful Assembly under section 141 needs minimum of five persons and two persons cannot form unlawful assembly. It is a tragedy that Police sub-Inspector who registered this case at Harbour Police Station does not have even an elementary understanding of law and has abused his position as police sub inspector to harass fisher of Zuari River.  Further this Police officer is wasting the time of the Court as well as draining out the financial resources of the fishers in hiring of lawyer. State Home Ministry must intervene and withdraw this case against Zuari river fisheries or else this case has a potential to trigger major public unrest against the State as both the Coastal Police as well as Fisheries Officers are standing out as enemies of Zuari River Gillnet fishers. Earlier State Government has withdrawn several criminal cases from the Courts including one against those accused in attack on Velim Church few years ago. The case against Zuari River fishers is fictitious and filed to push them in defensive mode in struggle against illegal fishing in Zuari being carried on by Purse seine boats, trawlers, water sports, marinas and other enemies.

The entire State led prosecution through Police Sub-Inspector Therron Dcosta of Harbour Police Station against the fishers of Zuari River in both the Courts in Vasco is against the internationally acceptable standards of fishery practices that are made enforceable in India through Article 54 of the National Marine Fishing Regulation Policy 2017. Paragraph 5.11 of SSF Guidelines states “States should provide small-scale fishing communities and individuals, including vulnerable and marginalized people, access through impartial and competent judicial and administrative bodies to timely, affordable and effective means of resolving disputes over tenure rights in accordance with national legislation, including alternative means of resolving such disputes, and should provide effective remedies, which may include an entitlement to appeal, as appropriate. Such remedies should be promptly enforced in accordance with national legislation and may include restitution, indemnity, just compensation and reparation.” Certainly the litigations in First class magistrate court are not affordable to the fishers of Zuari River and may create crisis situation with unknown unexpected consequences.

Directorate of Fisheries and Coastal Security Police instead of persecuting fishers of Zuari for their vocal stance in defense of Zuari river fishery must join them to tackle illegal fishing as per requirement of the international standards of fishery administration as reflected in SSF Guidelines paragraph 5.16 that states “States should ensure the establishment of monitoring, control and surveillance (MCS) systems or prompt application of the existing ones applicable to and suitable for small-scale fisheries. They should provide support to such systems, involving small-scale fisheries actors as appropriate and promoting participatory arrangements within the context of co-management. States should ensure effective monitoring and enforcement mechanisms to deter, prevent and eliminate all forms of illegal and/or destructive fishing practices having a negative effect on marine and inland ecosystems. States should endeavor to improve registration of the fishing activity. Small scale fishers should support the MCS systems and provide to the State fisheries authorities the information required for the management of the activity. This section of SSF Guidelines must be studied and reflected upon by the Harbour Coastal Security Police Station as well as Directorate of Fisheries, Government of Goa rather than launching witch hunt through criminal cases in Courts in Vasco against two fishers of Zuari River with eleven Sections of Indian Penal Code. Combined reading of all the applied IPC sections makes two fishers appear as seasoned criminals while letting the real criminals indulging in purse seine fishing, trawlers, and water sports operators go Scot free. The level of functioning of both the Fisheries department as well Coastal Security Police force together with Home Ministry must re-look the way governance is being conducted rather than imposing IPC sections on fishers, a move that has triggered tremendous uproar against the State Government. It is recommended on priority basis that both the cases against two fishers of Zuari be withdrawn as Police officer has not even studied the definition of Unlawful Assembly under section 141 IPC that it needs five people to attract this section and applied it recklessly only to boomerang back at him. These cases must be withdrawn by the State for fishers do not have money spend on litigation and needs to focus on constructive governance of rivers and fisheries in Goa. It is expected that the good sense people in the Goa Government will take note of this injustice reported public and act. After all when injustice became intolerable even the Judges of the Indian Supreme Court came out to speak at the Press Conference. Judges trusted power of People and hence spoke to media.

Situation of fishers in Zuari River is equally grave and crying for attention. The fishers of Zuari are inspiration for ongoing unionizing of fishers and related occupations. They initiated move to set up All Goa Small Scale Responsible Fisheries Union. Their delegates participated in the 4th National Conference of National Platform for Small Scale Fish Workers (Inland) in Delhi where India’s Fisheries Minister Pratap Chandra Sarangi addressed the delegates on making Inland fisheries and promised to finalized Policy on Inland Fishing Policy. Sanjay Pereira against whom the Coastal Police has registered the case was delegate to Delhi.

Goa’s Coastal Police has been authorized to act against those indulging in illegal fishing. In the present case Coastal Police after investigations informed Court of Hon’ble Sub-Divisional Magistrate, Vasco-da-Gama that police investigations has revealed that complainants themselves were indulging in illegal fishing in Zuari river at a time when this incident is reported to have taken place where in boats from Zuari river were taken by some people to the Siridao shore and the accused are involved in opposing illegal fishing in Zuari river. When Coastal Police Station is aware as to who was involved in illegal fishing and has clear mandate to act against those indulging in the such practices then why did Coastal Police forwarded out rightly fictitious case to the Civil Court in Vasco? Under whose Political Pressure Goa’s Coastal Police are prompting their actions? Its clear that Coastal Police Station at Harbour is acting as private revenge office of the lobby involved in illegal fishing in Zuari river and in this pursuit has gone all out not only to misuse police station by is also threatening to tarnish image of Judiciary by getting Sanjay Pereira and Cosmo Pires arrested after one year. This indicates that Coastal Police knows very well that they have no moral courage to arrest Sanjay Pereira and Cosmo Pires on their own and Police have almost dragged Judiciary into disrepute. This is really sad and amounts to abuse of Judiciary as PSI D’Costa cannot be assumed ignorant that Section 141 of IPC needs five people to constitute unlawful assembly but deliberate and intentional harassment leaving reasons for public speculations. If Police is allowed to abuse Judiciary in this manner then Public trust in Police as well as Judiciary will certainly diminish.

You are therefore requested to intervene and direct withdrawal of these cases filed against Sanjay Pereira, former member of Santa Cruz Panchayat and Cosmo Pires, Former Sarpanch of Siridao village Panchayat at the earliest.

Thanking you,
Yours Sincerely,

Sd/-

Maggie Silveira
President - Goa State



Wednesday, 24 July 2019

Call for action against illegal trawler fishing in Zuari river

Bharat Mukti Morcha (BMM), Goa Unit strongly condemns night trawling in Zuari river being carried on from daily these days from 9.00 pm to 4.00 am by two trawlers. Both the fisheries department as well as Coastal Police has not taken note of the occurrences due to unknown reason. Trawling is banned in rivers and also withing 5 kms from the shoreline. Trawling is also banned during night time. In addition trawling is banned during June- July to allow rivers and ecosystem to recover and maintain its capacity to nurture breeding of various fish species.

Even though there are laws against this kind of trawling their enforcement is pathetic. BMM calls for night patrolling of Zuari river by Coastal Police and Fisheries Department to stop illegal trawling in Zuari river. SSF Guidelines too call for halt to Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing activities. SSF Guidelines enforcement are part of National Policy on Marine Fisheries 2017 via Article 54.

BMM also call upon all the fishing community leaders and organisations of Goa to organize group study sessions on SSF Guidelines as without study and awareness fishing community organisations in Goa are lacking in direction to move ahead towards liberation and decisive action against several threats to fisheries and livelihood of small scale fishing communities.

Thursday, 11 July 2019

BMM call for implementation of Voluntary Guidelines for Small Scale Fisheries


(Picture of the Press Conference addressed by Maggie Silveira, President, Bharat Mukti Morcha, Goa Unit accompanied by Kalpana Divkar, Parvati Narvekar, Roque Menezes, Socorro Braganza and Sebastiao Rodrigues) 

Bharat Mukti Morcha (BMM) calls for immediate implementation of ‘Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries in the context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication’ (SSF Guidelines) in the State of Goa. SSF Guidelines were adopted formally by 143 member states of the United Nations including India in 2014 views those involved in small scale fishing communities all over the world with crucial role to restore, conserve, protect and co-manage local aquatic and Coastal Ecosystems (Para 5.5). Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) published these SSF Guidelines in 2015 advocates ecosystem approach towards Fisheries (Para 10.4).  Government of India included these SSF Guidelines in National Policy on Marine Fisheries, 2017 under Article 54 making SSF Guidelines applicable all over India. Goa is lacking in implementation.

BMM calls upon Government of Goa to implement the SSF Guidelines on urgency basis as Goa’s coast, rivers, inland fisheries are being battered badly and mismanaged deliberately thereby threatening very existence of fishing as livelihood option in near future. Due to lack of sensitivity our coast are getting squeezed and rivers are being grabbed due to commercial interests. 

SSF Guidelines has significant ingredients to turn the situation around in several aspects like secure tenure right to access to Sea and rivers (Para 5.1) that are often threatened due to tourism, casinos, marinas etc, harmonization of policies related to health of marine and inland water bodies involved in fisheries and agriculture (Para 10.3) that are threatened due to breach of bunds on Mandovi river banks leading to ingress of water and flooding of paddy fields in Divar and Vanxim islands, and several other parts of Goa, Calling of long term vision for sustainable small-scale fisheries (Para 10.4) that we lack in Goa as visible from declaration of Goa’s six rivers as National Waterways at the instance of mining, tourism and gambling industry. 

SSF Guidelines calls for defense of Human Rights of vulnerable and marginalized people and long term vision and policy framework for SSF(10.4); several fishing villages are erased and rendered invisible from the coastal management map that has been withdrawn last week by GCZMA demonstrates magnitude of attack on Goa’s Coast. SSF Guidelines seeks to address issue of Pollution, Coastal erosion and destruction of coastal habitats due to human inducted non-fisheries related factors (Para 9.3); Fishing in Mandovi has been disrupted due take over of river mouth by Gambling cartels for off-shore casinos, construction of three bridges including latest one without valid marine EIA has left huge amount of debris on river bed, cutting down of mangroves inside the river and installation of tourism activities at Divar Island has eroded significant fishing spaces for local fisher people, sand mining method allied by canoes destroys marine life, Water sports in Goa’s several rivers like Zuari, Mandovi and Chapora has negative impacts on fishing communities, Proposed dredging of Mandovi, Zuari etc under the pretext of passenger ferries will add further stress on rivers and fishing communities, Capital dredging of rivers is detrimental to fishing but has been pushed on by mining lobby from 2010. 

Pollution created by mining as well as mining barges is well recorded in the very first minutes of Goa State Pollution Control Board in 1988 as available in their website. SSF Guidelines calls for establishment and application of monitoring, control and surveillance suitable for SSF; there is need to set up marine radar to monitor illegal fishing in Zuari river by use of purse seine, trawl nets and other type of illegal fishing.

BMM calls upon Captain of Ports, Directorate of Fisheries, Goa State Pollution Control Board, Department of Tourism and Goa Coastal Zone Management Authority to integrate SSF Guidelines in coastal management on urgent basis. Coastal management can be achieved by making fishing communities visible by recognition and respect to the livelihood practices and food security mechanisms along with comprehensive defense of coast and river ecology.