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.

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