Fishermen observe strike against nod to large fishing trawlers in Gujarat

A large number of fishermen across the state observed a day-long strike to protest the Centre's recent decision to allow deep sea fishing trawlers in the waters of India's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

Rajkot: A large number of fishermen across the state observed a day-long strike to protest the Centre's recent decision to allow deep sea fishing trawlers in the waters of India's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

"Fishermen in the state observed a day-long strike today to oppose the Centre's decision to allow large trawlers to fish in the sea. While fishermen already face tough times, this decision will only add to their problems," Akhil Gujarat Fishermen Mahamandal's president Tulsi Gohel said.

Various fishermen's federations in Gujarat decided to support the nationwide strike called today by the All India Fishermens' Federation, convener of the Porbandar based NGO Sagar Bharati, Jivan Jungi said.

According to him, the central government's decision would destroy the livelihoods of small fishermen, since large trawlers would get access to the major share of marine life using advanced technology, leaving nothing for those using small engine-powered boats with limited fishing capacity.

"During today's strike, around 20,000 engine-powered fishing boats across the state stayed away from fishing," Jungi said, and expressed strong opposition to Centre's move to allow large vessels of 15 metres or more, to fish in the Indian EEZ, which falls in the deep sea between 22 km and 370 km from the coast.

As per latest guidelines issued by the Centre on deep sea fishing, Indian companies with joint ventures up to 49 per cent foreign investment could also apply for fishing permits valid for five years.

"We strongly oppose entry of foreign companies into

fishing. With their huge financial power, they will scoop up large amount of fish from the deep sea in a single trip, leaving nothing for smaller boats, which cannot go beyond few a kilometres due to fuel constraints. This decision will only help foreign firms," Jungi said.

He said that the new guidelines would adversely affect more than 1.5 crore people surviving on income from fishing in Gujarat.

"These large trawlers can scoop away 400 tonne to 500 tonne of fish in just one trip. They also have the facility to preserve, process and pack the fish. Thus, not only small fishermen, but also processors and exporters, who employ large number of locals, will eventually go out of business," Jungi said.

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