Following the first consultation meeting, on the Marine
Fisheries (Regulation and Management) Bill, organised by the
Ministry of Agriculture today, Greenpeace reiterated the need for a
substantial revision of the draft Marine Fisheries (Regulation and
Management) bill. Considering the far-reaching implications of the
bill, Greenpeace also stressed the need for multiple consultations
to be organised by the Ministry of Agriculture across the country,
ensuring that the key stakeholders - fisher communities and their
associations, and environmental groups and researchers, are
provided with a fair chance to input into the draft bill.
"The need for such a bill is clear, as India needs an instrument
to regulate, manage and conserve fishery resources in its EEZ.
However, the current draft falls short on several counts,
fulfilling neither its regulation / management mandate, nor
factoring in the livelihoods and aspirations of India's 3 million
marine fishing community" said Sanjiv Gopal, Oceans Campaign
Manager, Greenpeace India. "Further, it is vital that the
regulation and management of fishing in the Indian EEZ is
harmonized with national conservation laws and international laws
to which India is party. The precautionary and ecosystem approach
should be employed when decisions are taken on all marine resource
extraction, including fisheries." he further added.
While the draft bill was circulated to State Governments in
2009, today's consultation was the first attempt to seek the inputs
of non-governmental stakeholders - fisher communities, researchers
and environmental groups. So far, the state Government and
politicians across party lines in Tamilnadu have strongly opposed
the bill, and many of the other coastal states are expected to
follow suit. It is anticipated that the draft bill is scheduled to
be tabled in the next session of the Parliament.
In its submission to the Ministry, Greenpeace has highlighted
the acute need for the incorporation of the following areas in the
1. The need for a Preamble to specify the rationale and
guiding principles of the proposed legislation.
2. The need for an increased focus on equity - It is
essential that the Bill ensure preferential access of the EEZ to
the Indian fishing community, many of whom already rely on parts of
the EEZ. The first lien on the fisheries resources in the Indian
EEZ should be for Indian fishers and wholly Indian owned and
operated fishing vessels.
3. The need for an increased focus on sustainability - Given
that economic benefits of fisheries exploitation will accrue only
as long as the resource itself is in a healthy condition, it is
important that the bill addresses the issue of sustainability of
India's marine fisheries. This could be through a variety of
instruments, including seasonal fishing restrictions, protection of
breeding and spawning grounds of over-exploited fish species,
setting the total allowable catches legally at or below
scientifically recommended levels, restrictions on types of gear
and provision for no-take areas in the EEZ.
4. Enforcement mechanisms need to be better defined and
consistent with social realities.
In conclusion, Gopal said "On the whole, the Bill needs
significant improvement in certain areas to make it friendly to
India's small scale fishing community, strengthen provisions
consistent with good fisheries conservation and reinforce the
principles of equity and sustainability. It would also need to be
informed by examples of management and decision making from other
parts of the world, to incorporate 'best practices' and avoid
mistakes experienced elsewhere. A failure to do so could not only
impact marine ecosystems and result in collapse of fish stocks as
has happened with many developed countries, but also have a
dramatic and negative impact on livelihood and food security for
millions across India's coastline".
For further information, contact
Sanjiv Gopal, Campaign Manager – Oceans, Greenpeace India, +91-98455 35416,
Dr. Seema Javed, Sr. Media Officer, Greenpeace India, +91-99100 59765,