Traditional fisherfolk put forth their woes at the public consultation in Gupti

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Press release - June 23, 2011
June 21, 2011, Gupti, Orissa: In a public consultation organised by Greenpeace and United Artists’ Association (UAA), 250 traditional fishermen from over 10 villages interacted with Alekh Kumar Jena, MLA, Rajnagar, Matanhy Saldanha, president, National Fishworkers’ Forum (NFF) and Narayan Haldar from Orissa Traditional Fishworkers’ Forum (OTFWU) to evaluate various income generation schemes that have been proposed to aid them during the fishing ban every year.Rabi Patnaik, ADF, Fisheries and officials from Integrated Coastal Zone Management Program were the other panellists present at the consultation.

Prior to the consultation, a sample survey was undertaken in 15 villages of Kendrapara by Greenpeace and UAA to collate data about the various alternative income generation methods that fishermen are already adopting, basic training needs, investments needed and the success and failure factors.

From the survey, it is clear that there has been no consultation by the government with the villages concerned - 96% per cent of the fishers surveyed said that they had not been consulted about the programme and that they heard about it only via newspapers. 300 SHGs in the area have been identified for this program and will receive an amount of 2.5 lakhs each. In the last public hearing organised by Greenpeace and UAA on 16th June at Kharinasi, the low level of awareness among the community about the program was a recurring theme.

“While income generation schemes to help the fishing community are important, we have to be clear that the fishing community’s right to a sustainable livelihood is sacrosanct. Prior consultation and consent of the fishers is essential for any marine protected area to be successful – this cannot be an afterthought,” said Matanhy Saldhana. We must learn from the mistakes made at Gahirmatha so that we can achieve a balance between protecting biodiversity and ensuring that communities are not denied access to their livelihood.”

Dr. Mamta Mishra, community expert from the state ICZM programme office noted, “This meeting helped us gain valuable insights from the community. The recommendations about training needs and more awareness of the program are valid and need to be taken on board in the implementation of the program for it to be successful.”

Narayan Haldar, OTFWU president reiterated the need for simpler guidelines for implementation of the scheme. “While monitoring mechanisms for the program should be followed, individuals should have the freedom to choose a sustainable income generating option as long as it is not detrimental to the environment,” he said.

For further information, contact

Areeba Hamid, Oceans Campaigner, Greenpeace India, +91-99005 69456,

Mangaraj Panda, General Secretary, United Artists Association, +91-94370 67314,

Saumya Tripathy, Media Consultant, +91-80931 42421,