New coastal security net will hurt fishermen: Pawar

Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar has criticised the new security measures being imposed on fishermen under the coastal security blueprint saying that “stricter regulations”.....

Written by Amitav Ranjan | New Delhi | Published: February 23, 2009 3:35:56 am

Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar has criticised the new security measures being imposed on fishermen under the coastal security blueprint saying that “stricter regulations” under the proposed plan would rob them of their livelihood.

In a letter to Home Minister P Chidambaram last month,Pawar said that “existing legal framework provided sufficient powers to undertake the suggested measures to regulate fishing” operations and that the coastal states had been told to implement them in toto.

“We need to ensure implementation of these provisions in letter and spirit,” he wrote. “It would be desirable to seek collaboration and cooperation of fisheries stakeholders for security rather than giving a perception of fisheries being an adversarial activity,” he added.

Indian Coast Guard proposes to ban fishing within

10 nautical miles of the International Maritime Boundary Line and around a 500-metre radius of oil rigs and important ports. It has also called for moving the harbour away from ports and restricting fishing in earmarked lanes for boats from a particular harbour.

The new coastal security strategy also proposes to make it mandatory for all fishing boats to get registered with issue of biometric identity cards to all fishermen. It has earmarked Rs 100 crore to install AIS transponders on 3 lakh vessels below 300 tonnes weight for dynamic information on their identification,location,speed and course. As of now,International Maritime Organisation norms make transponders necessary for ships over 300 tonnes.

“While we should support all measures to tighten security,the human aspect of the problem also needs to be sensitively discussed. The security-related decisions we take must address the livelihood concerns of the fishermen,” wrote Pawar.

Nearly 8 lakh families are dependent on coastal fishing for their livelihood. Their operations are regulated by state Marine Fishing Regulation Act which provides ID cards to fishermen,compulsory registration of vessels,mandatory license for fishing and submission of voyage reports.

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