KOLLAM: The fishermen under the National Fish Workers Forum have raised apprehensions over the proposed notification by the Director-General of Shipping on the designated corridor for merchant ships to avoid ship-boat collisions in mid-sea.
A memorandum regarding this has been submitted to the Union ministry of shipping seeking direct consultations on the matter with fishermen of coastal states before the notification is finalised as the move would affect the livelihood of fishermen.
The designated corridor for merchant ships has been proposed to avoid ships and fishing boats collision in mid-sea. “The fishermen are interested in finding a solution to the ever-increasing incidents of boat accidents caused by collisions, but the current unilateral move by the DGS will protect the interests of commercial shipping companies by sidelining the livelihood interests of fishermen,” said Mr T. Peter, NFF general secretary.
The authorities plan to implement “a concrete traffic separation scheme for the west coast” but the fact is that no fishermen groups in the region were consulted by the ministry of shipping so far to discuss and finalise the scheme, Mr Peter added.
The proposed corridor is 15 nautical miles from the coastline having a span of 20 nautical miles (37.5 km) which is inappropriate. This is the main fishing ground for thousands of fishermen who go for fishing in mechanised boats along coastal India. The fishermen also are concerned about how to demarcate the boundary of the proposed corridor which was proposed on a map. The move will affect availability of fish for domestic use and also foreign money earned by exports, as the west coast is a major breeding ground for fish in the country.
The memorandum said that the provisions in the new notification will enable the shipping companies to evade the responsibility of collision and leave the fishermen as the main culprits. The fishermen will not only lose their fishing ground but will also become liable and punishable for trespassing in the corridor, it is alleged. The NFF executive meeting to be held in Goa on October 3 will decide on conducting a nationwide protest against the move.