ALL GOA SMALL SCALE RESPONSIBLE FISHERIES UNION
190, Nauxi, Bambolim, Tiswadi, Goa. 403 206
Dr. Pramod Sawant
Chief Minister of Goa,
Government of Goa,
Shri Philip Neri Rodrigues,
Minister of Fisheries,
Government of Goa,
Subject: Regarding withdrawal of Indian Marine Fisheries Bill 2021
In a rare exhibition of bureaucratic agility the Department of Fisheries of the Government of India in the Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying, had brought in Indian Marine Fisheries Bill 2021 (IMFB 2021) just a few days before the last monsoon session of the Parliament and had been hell bent to pass it in that very session. The bill was supposed to provide a legal instrument to regulate and
manage marine fishing in the Indian EEZ (200 nautical miles or 370 kilometres) beyond the territorial waters (12 nautical miles or 22 kilometres) and the high seas. Widespread disapproval of both the undemocratic procedure and anti small scale fisheries content of the bill has compelled the Government of India from pushing the bill through the last parliamentary session. But the bill may be put up in the next
The IMFB 2021 has been drawn in a totally undemocratic process. Small scale marine fishing communities, by far the largest primary stakeholders, have been completely ignored. They were not even informed that the Government is going to make an Act to regulate and manage their livelihood activity.
This blatantly violates the minimum constitutional standards and ethical principles (‘nothing about us without us’) for adoption of legislation for any section of citizens. The highhanded procedure has hurt the
dignity of the fishing communities. The small scale fishing communities disdainfully reject IMFB 2021 because - did not ask for it, did not draft it, were not consulted on it and have not approved it.
The procedure of making IMFB 2021, in ignoring the governments of coastal states, has violated
the constitutional principle of constructive federalism.
Moreover, the bill has –
Failed to reiterate adherence to the overarching principles like subsidiarity, participatory
governance, gender justice, inter-gnerational equity and precautionary principle enshrined in the National Policy on Marine Fisheries 2017;
Wrongfully defined ‘Small Scale Fisheries’. All kinds of fishing boats including manual, motorised and mechanised are included in the small-scale fisheries in the present bill. This means that trawlers, purse seiners and other large fishing boats will be treated as small scale.
This is going to preclude the right of actual small-scale fishers to preferential access to fish resources and other entitlements regarding finance, infrastructure and welfare.
Failed to ensure the right of participation of the small-scale fishers in the framing of rules and
constitution of bodies to be made for the execution of the proposed act which include – Monitoring Control and Surveillance, measures for promotion of livelihoods and socio-economic well-being of traditional and small-scale fishers, Marine Fisheries Development and Management Plans, Marine Fisheries Policy, ‘Consultative Committee’ for policy guidance and adjudication of violations.
Failed to provide guidelines for consideration of available resource and capacity of fishing with application of scale subsidiarity in licensing of fishing boats that would ensure control and
reduction of the number and effort of larger fishing boats to stop over fishing;
Failed to provide statutory guidelines for migrant and vessel crew fish workers who are at work on larger vessels and fishing efforts. The Government of India in the Department of Fisheries is in a hurry to push through the bill because World Trade Organisation (WTO) is threatening to stop all subsidies to and impose sanctions on the IUU (illegal, unregulated and unreported) fishing. Absence of statutory instrument to approve, regulate and
account for the fishing effort and catch in the Indian EEZ made it fully exposed to the threat of being designated as IUU fishing and face the consequences of WTO sanctions including the fisheries subsidies.
The threat is imminent as the WTO negotiations on fisheries subsidies are at their final stage.
It is obvious that not the urge to protect the small scale fishers, but to continue to protect the interests of the large scale fisheries entrepreneurs is behind this hurried drive to bring in the legislation.
WTO sanctions on the trade and export of fish as well as on the fisheries subsidies are going to hit the large scale fisheries entrepreneurs the most as they are almost the sole, if not the sole, beneficiaries of these. The hidden objective of the Ministry in bringing up the instant legislation is also evident from the fact that they have designated almost all kinds of fishing in the EEZ as small scale glossing over the universally
recognised distinctions and conflicts between the small scale subsistence fishing and large scale commercial fishing.
Small scale fishers do not want subsidies; they want to get back their fisheries which have been forcibly taken away by the large scale fishing entrepreneurs with the connivance of the government.
The small scale marine fishing communities of the country demand –
Immediate withdrawal of IMFB 2021;
Sincere effort on the part of the Government of India to initiate a process of comprehensive and
inclusive consultation with the marine fishing communities all around the country’s coast to
draw a draft bill for managing and regulating marine fishing;
Ensure availability of the draft bill in all the languages of Indian coastal fishing communities;
Place the bill in the parliament only on approval of the fishing communities and their
SAVE WATER, SAVE FISH, SAVE FISHER PEOPLE
1. Director of Fisheries, Panjim, Goa
2. Convenor, National Platform for Small Scale Fish Workers
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