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Points for Critical Intervention

Safety of Fisherfolk at Seas

Over 240 fisherfolk were missing after cyclone Ockhi hit India’s south-western coasts. Lack of adoption of safety measures points to gross negligence of safety of fisherfolk at sea. The mandatory suggestions of various international and national level agencies have been neglected. In this regard, synergistic action between policymakers, implementing agencies and fisherfolk is required to translate policies to action. Awareness generation and mandatory trainings are suggested to improve fisherfolk safety, while community support is vital for the success of policy enforcement.

The cyclone Ockhi, which created havoc on the western coast of India during December 2017, has raised many questions regarding the safety of fisherfolk at sea. The debate over efficacy of a disaster warning system notwithstanding, low or no use of safety measures by fisherfolk deserves critical attention and policy focus. Across the globe, marine capture fisheries remain one of the most hazardous occupations (Perez-Labajos 2008; Lincoln and Lucas 2010; Roberts 2010). The International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates that over 24,000 fisherfolk die every year, besides suffering damages to craft and gear. Evidence in some of the northern countries suggests that the risks of fatal accidents while fishing have reduced by about half to an average of about 1 per 1,000 person-years over a period of time (Jensen et al 2014). Implementation of safety programmes seemed to have a positive impact in this. It emerges that much of the disasters, particularly human loss, could have been avoided with usage of appropriate technologies and by following the prescribed regulations. Various agencies like the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), ILO and International Maritime Organization (IMO) have stressed the need for popularising sea-safety measures. However, the adoption of these measures in India is found to be low. In this context, based on reviews, expert consultations and focused group discussions with stakeholders, this article identifies various intervention points for providing safety while fishing at sea. 

Marine Fisheries in India

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Updated On : 30th Oct, 2018

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