Catholic priest and trade union leader Thomas Kochery, who has been mainly associated with fight for fishermen rights over the past three decades, died here following cardiac arrest. He was 74.
Kochery had been the former chairperson of National Fishermen Forum (NFF). He is the co-coordinator of the World Forum of fish-harvester and fish workers and Indian National Alliance of People’s Movements.
One of the organisers of the famous Kanyakumari march of 1989 that sought to protect India’s coastal ecology, he had mobilised the fishing community to fight the foreign industrial fishing fleets. A crusader against coastal pollution, he spearheaded protests against the Kudankulam Nuclear Plant in Tamil Nadu and was a member of the Coastal Zone Management Authority of India.
Ordained as a priest in 1971, Kochery went to work among refugees in Bangladesh. He got involved in the fight for fishermen rights in 1977 when he started working among the community in Thiruvananthapuram coast. Kochery had played critical role in founding Kerala Independent Fishermen Federation. In 1981, he had started agitations demanding trawling ban during monsoon season.
Kochery had been living at Manavalakurichi near Nagarcovil in Tamil Nadu until last year before he moved to Thiruvananthapuram.