New Delhi: At 63, Ahmed Kaka from Luni village in Gujarat is fighting for fish stocks along the Kutch coast, which are depleting. He recalls there were once more than 20 varieties of sharks along the coast, which have now disappeared.
D. Shanmugan, a fisherman from Chennai, says "large foreign vessels" leave no catch for them and it is difficult to sustain a living.
At the fishermen`s village of Satpati in Palghar, Maharashtra, girls from the fishing communities are not ready to marry fishermen because they cannot earn enough, owing to dwindling fish in the sea.
These are some cases highlighted in a study by Greenpeace, which says fishermen are at grave risk of losing livelihood with depleting fish resources along the coast - thanks to overfishing and faulty government policies.
"India may suffer a three-pronged threat owing to depleting fish stocks and historical neglect of marine conservation," says the Greenpeace report released Friday to mark World Oceans Day.
"Fisheries industry contributes about one to two percent of the national GDP, besides providing livelihood to about 15 million people along the coast. Depleting fish stocks would not only result in massive job losses but would also hurt ecology," it says.
Veteran Marxist leader and chairman of the Standing Committee on Agriculture Basudeb Acharia agrees. "We have reached a tipping point in Indian fisheries," he said.
Acharia, who released the report along with Congress leader R.C. Khuntia, said the committee would take up the issue with the government.
Khuntia said that he would raise the issue at the Rio+20 UN Summit on Sustainable Development scheduled for later this month.
"It is a matter of concern as large populations depend on fishing, and the ecological impact is also worrying," Khuntia said.
National Fishworkers Forum secretary T. Peter says the economic and social consequences of the fisheries` decline have been devastating for fishing communities, especially at the small and medium level.
"Previously self-sufficient traditional fishing communities are witnessing the destruction of their natural resource base, resulting in poverty and migration to other occupations," says Peter.
The ecological impact of high volume of fishing is evident from its effects on bio-diversity. Environment activists have demanded that the government revise its fishery policy, including that of issuing permits to foreign vessels.