International small-scale fisheries policies and the struggle by artisanal fishers for access to the ocean are two of several issues that are under the spotlight at an international fisheries forum in India.

Fisher community leaders from 30 countries including USA, UK, France, Italy, Canada, South Africa, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Philippines, Spain, Kenya, Denmark, Argentina, Brazil and Mauritania are attending World Forum of Fisher People’s (WFFP) annual meeting.

The meeting is taking place from 14 to 19 July, 2015 at Pondicherry, India.

The fisher community leaders will be hosted by WFFP’s member organisation the National Fishworker Forum of India (NFF) and special focus will be given to the Indian Fisher community issues.

These include, foreign fishing vessels in India’s deep sea, the encouragement of traditional fisher communities to venture into deep sea fishing, the halting of LOP being given to corporate companies and issues of land and ocean grabbing in the coast and sea of India.

“Fisher folk in India are facing a number of issues, like harassment from officials and the threat of lack of access to traditional fishing ground,” said Manickam Ilango, member of the Co-ordinating Committee of the WFFP and chairperson of NFF.

“As we gather as the WFFP we hope our fellow fisher community leaders will assist us come up with ways of solving these issues,” he continued.

The meeting will also discuss the Tenure Guidelines, International Guidelines, Climate change and the Declaration on the rights of Peasant Declaration.

“We are hoping to Strategise for the WFFP and have a clearer plan for the next year,” commented Nadine Nembhard co-chair of WFFP and member of the Caribbean Network of Fisherfolk Organisations.

“We hope to have in-depth discussions regarding issues facing not only the Indian fisher folk but all our fisher communities and come up with practical solutions for these issues,” she continued.

The first two and a half days of the meeting takes the form of a workshop involving all Coordinating Committee (CC) members, three delegates from International Collective in Support of Fishworkers (ICSF), one or two from World Fisher Forum, 12 from the NFF, one representative from Africa Contact (Denmark), one from Food First (USA)/Transnational Institute (the Netherlands), one from FIAN International (Germany), and one from the secretariat of the IPC for Food Sovereignty.

The workshop is focusing on The International Guidelines on securing sustainable small-scale fisheries.

As part of this workshop, the NFF has planned a two hour meeting with local fishers and governmental officials in which all delegates are invited and expected to participate.

“The NFF has also invited Mr N Rangasamy, the Honourable Chief minister of Pondicherry as the Chief Guest for the valedictory function of the workshop” said the WFFP in its press statement.

The annual CC meeting will commence on day three and continue on 17 and 18 July. The CC meeting is for CC members and special invitees/resource people to the WFFP only.

The WFFP CC was elected at the the 5th WFFP General Assembly, held in South Africa in September 2014. The CC is made up of 13 members representing fisher organisations within the WFFP.

The World Forum of Fisher People’s (WFFP) was the outcome of the meeting of the leaders of the International fisher communities held at New Delhi in 1997.

Masifundise, represented by Naseegh Jaffer serves as the secretariat of the WFFP.

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