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Free trade pacts, FDI opposed in retail, fisheries sectors

The National Fish Workers Forum has opposed free trade agreements and foreign direct investment in retail trade and the fisheries sector.

In a resolution adopted at its annual general body meeting held here from December 7 to 9, the forum demanded that fish workers be consulted before any trade agreement involving the fisheries sector was signed.

The meeting opposed the establishment of nuclear power plants, and expressed its solidarity with the people struggling against the setting up of such plants at Kudankulam and Jaitapur. It strongly opposed the establishment of thermal power plants with captive ports on the coast and the setting up of new private ports.

The meeting took exception to the imposition of marine protected areas with a blanket ban on fishing at the Gulf of Kutch in Gujarat, Malvan in Maharashtra, the Gulf of Mannar in Tamil Nadu, Gahirmatha and Bhitarkanika in Orissa, and the Sundarbans Tiger Reserve in West Bengal. It demanded consultations with, and participation of, coastal fish workers in the management of ecologically sensitive coastal areas.

The meeting resolved to engage with the preparatory process of the 11th meeting of the parties (COP-II) of the Convention on Biodiversity scheduled for October 2012 in Hyderabad to seek implementation of participatory and equitable forms of conservation and management of coastal and marine resources. It demanded the establishment of a separate Fisheries Ministry at the Centre as the sector involved more than 25 million people who made vital contribution to the food security of the country.

The meeting wanted comprehensive legislation to rationalise the fisheries sector with reference to fishing vessels, gears, and resources ensuring preferential access for small and traditional fishers to the stock of fish in Indian waters.

It demanded a ban on bottom trawling and use of purse-seine nets in the territorial waters. In Maharashtra and Gujarat, these should be prohibited even well beyond the territorial waters where traditional fishing took place on a large scale. It called for the ratification and implementation of ILO Convention no. 188 for Work in Fishing for all coastal fish workers of the country.

In another resolution, the forum demanded the immediate implementation of Unorganised Workers Social Security Act 2008 with reference to all fish workers of the country.

It called for the implementation of the remaining 40 recommendations of the Mandal Commission recommendations for Other Backward Classes (OBC), which included reserved electoral constituencies for coastal fisherfolk.

Published in The Hindu - http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/article2710757.ece

(from Kerala)

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