Around 5,000 fishermen gathered at the Sassoon dock on Tuesday to mark a protest against the draft guidelines issued by the directorate general (Shipping) last month, restricting them from fishing between 15 to 35 nautical miles from the coastline in the Arabian Sea. Twenty nautical miles is proposed as a designated traffic corridor for merchant vessels between Gujarat to Kanyakumari as a remedy to mid-sea collision.
Members of the Karanja Macchimar Society, which staged the protest, said this would have a huge impact on their business as the restricted corridor is where they find different variety of fish.
A part of the Centre’s Sagarmala programme, the government has decided to construct new ports to harness the country’s coastline. The plan is to build 142 cargo terminals at all the major ports.
Ganesh Nakhawa, the director of the society, said: “On Saturday, our association members met Union Minister Nitin Gadkari in Delhi. As he failed to assure us… instead said we were interfering in the development of the ports… we have decided to protest on the western coast.”
“The fishes, which are in demand, are found between 15 to 35 nautical miles, so this will cause a huge problem to our business,” said a fisherman.
The fishermen also planned to block the route leading to Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust but following police intervention, the move was called off. “The route is around 500 m from the coast, and we were planning to block it. However, after the police intervened and our MLA Raj Purohit promised to raise the issue with the Centre, we decided to protest from the coast,” said Nakhawa.
Terming it as a peaceful protest, Assistant Commissioner of Police Subhash Khanvilkar (Colaba division) said: “It was more of a gathering of fishermen. They came together and discussed their problems with their MLA.”
DG (Shipping) Dr Malini Shankar said, “We are not stopping them from far into the sea. Traffic system needs to be followed and we are equally sensitive about this issue. Certain incidents have taken place at the Kerala coast, owing to which such a draft was issued.”