The Ministry of Environment and Forests has released the draft of the Traditional Coastal and Marine Fisherfolk (Protection of Rights) Act 2009 for discussion before it is tabled in the Parliament.
The act seeks to recognize the rights of the fishing community living along the coastline of the country as the same is not recognized by any laws of the land including the Coastal Regulation Zone which has been notified by the very Ministry of Environment and Forests.
The ministry acknowledged the need to recognize the rights of the fishing community carrying out fishing activity through traditional means in the surrounding coastal areas and argues that there is a need to regulate this activity to ensure that the sustainable exploitation of natural resources which will conserve the bio diversity and ecological balance.
The act covers not only the coastal areas but also estuaries, creeks, bays and others including those extracting shell fish.
The act proposes to name the local panchayat as the authority to determine the nature and extent of the rights of the fishing community as a whole and also as individual fishers.
While it is proposed that the State government shall constitute a committee to examine the resolutions of the panchayat, state’s fisheries department will be the appellate authority in case of any dispute or grievance.
However, the traditional fishing community is not going to be quite happy with the draft as is likely to object to the preamble itself particularly since it envisages that their activity needs to be regulated to preserve bio-diversity.
Going by the stand taken by the traditional fishing community vis-à-vis the Coastal Regulation Zone notification, it can safely be assumed that they will protest against this notification arguing that they have been carrying on their trade from time immemorial without affecting the bio-diversity and argue that it is the activities of the mechanized fishing sector that needs to be monitored and regulated to ensure that there is sustainable exploitation of the marine resources.