Don't Arrest Fishermen, Says WFFP

Int’l forum seeks permanent solution to incarceration due to crossing maritime borders, return of seized boats

Published: 20th July 2015 06:09 AM  |   Last Updated: 20th July 2015 06:10 AM   |  A+A-

PUDUCHERRY:  World Forum of Fisher Peoples (WFFP) has appealed for compensation for Indian fishermen killed by Sri Lankan navy. The fishermen’s organisation representing 37 countries urged the governments of India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka not to arrest fisher people who cross maritime border while fishing for their livelihood.

Explaining the decisions taken at its co-ordination committee meeting, Muhammed Ali Shah, Co-chair of WFFP, said a permanent solution should be found to the fishermen incarceration due to crossing national border and entering the territory of neighbouring nations. Mere promises for release of arrested fishermen are not sufficient and it is important that a policy decision is arrived at by these South Asian countries, he said and added that the boats seized should be released without further delay. Shah demanded that the provisions of the UN Laws of the Seas be seriously and fully implemented by the countries with adjoining sea borders, especially in the South Asian context.

Referring to the resolution on the Indian Fishermen, who are shot and killed by the Sri Lankan Navy, he said the number is escalating since 1984 and has exceeded 600 and the unfortunate truth is that the families of these fishermen, who had been fishing for livelihood, are not compensated sufficiently so that the children could continue with the education.

He said the WFFP demanded that sufficient and justifiable compensation be made to the families of these fishermen by the governments concerned.

Shah said ocean grabbing -- in the form of privatisation of coastal lands and marine protected areas -- is a very serious threat affecting small-scale fishing communities in all the countries with sea front. WFFP demanded that sufficient and justifiable action be taken by the governments concerned against ocean grabbing by the corporate houses, who look for profiteering interests. 

He said the WFFP opposes the indiscriminate deep sea fishing using trawlers, big ships and purse seine nets, which pose danger to the fish habitats and environment. Shah demanded that small fishermen and their livelihood be protected and rampant privatisation of the fishing industry not be allowed. The meeting further adopted a programme of action that aims at building capacity of small-scale fishing communities in order to facilitate the implementation of the international guidelines on sustainable small-scale fisheries adopted by committee of fisheries of the United Nations.

As leading fishing nation in the region and the world, the Indian government had crucial role to play to raise the standard for community based fishery management.

Release of Six Pakistanis sought

Puducherry: Chairperson of Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum, Muhammad Ali Shah appealed to the Indian government to release six Pakistani fishermen, who are still languishing in Indian jails even after serving more than 15 years. Speaking to reporters here on Sunday, Shah, who is also co-chair of the World Forum of Fisher People, said the Pakistani fishermen were fined Rs 2 lakh and they were not financially sound to pay the amount. He added that PFF was ready to pay the fine on their behalf, but there are no provisions to pay it directly to the India government. He appealed to the Indian Government to release all the six fishermen on humanitarian ground as early as possible.                                         

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