(Asian Independent)

The National Fishworkers Forum [NFF], the trade union of thousands of fishworkers in India remembers this historical World Fisheries Day in midst of the pandemic crisis which has struck across the world.

NFF stands in solidarity with millions of small scale fisheries across the globe while celebrating this important day which indeed began from an effort in 1997 to build a world forum for the small and the traditional fishworkers. Representatives from 32 countries when fishing communities gathered in New Delhi then and decided that the World Fisheries Day should be celebrated to establish the rights of the fishing communities to own water bodies, fishing implements and to manage the distribution of their catch. It is an on-going struggle against industrial fleets in the world.

NFF remembers with gratitude and with pride the contributions of our leaders both at the local, regional, national and international stage whose struggles paved a path for us to move forward in the struggle for fuller life with dignity and justice for all the fishing communities.

Today, among many other natural resource dependent communities, the fishing communities especially the small scale fishers and women across the value chain have been affected very badly. Disruption of daily livelihood chores, dismantling of the market and supply chains, eviction from their living and working spaces have been visible during this process. The relief mechanisms of the government has moved ahead of the announcement of new schemes allotted before the pandemic and have not addressed the demands of the fishworkers.

Like never before in India there are government’s rapid policy reforms that further restrict our participation in the decision making process and our access to water bodies and coastal lands. At a global level, NFF understands there is a push for the furthering the blue economy agenda by the international financial institutions and corporations, which is reflected in the policy reforms happening in India.Resistance on the ground to usurping of coastal land and livelihoods by the forces in power is rising and increasingly visible.

In this light, NFF renews its commitment on this day to steadfastly stand along with the people’s power on the ground and work towards protecting their rights protecting the environment as well as the life and livelihoods of the fishing community.

NFF vows to Protect Water and Protect Life on this World Fisheries Day.

In solidarity

Narendra Patil