ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Are Our Seas Up for Grabs?

Our marine fishing communities are once again restive about the possibility of a neo-liberal opening up of the seas to Indian and foreign industrial interests. Though the track record of industrial deep-sea fishing has been very poor compared to that of the traditional artisanal fleet, steps seem to be in the making to further encourage their involvement.

Over the past few months, marine fishing communities around the country have been considerably agitated over an expert committee report. They claim that its recommendations are inimical to their occupational and livelihood interests. Their main fear is that outside interests—Indian and foreign—will take control over the fishing sector of the country.

The Expert Committee (EC) in question was headed by B Meenakumari Deputy Director-General of the Indian Council for Agricultural Research with members from seven government fishery organisations. It was constituted in August 2013 primarily to review India’s current deep-sea fishing policy and guidelines. However, the terms of reference of the EC included (1) a review of the current Comprehensive Marine Fishing Policy of 2004 and to suggest a new policy; (2) suggestions for full exploitation of catch potential in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and international waters; and (3) examination of India’s status of compliance with regional and global requirements of management and regulation of marine fisheries. To cover this ground the EC was given a mere three months. The “Report of the Expert Committee Constituted for Comprehensive Review of the Deep-Sea Fishing Policy and Guidelines” finally took 12 months and was submitted to the Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries of the Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India in August 2014.

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