The World Forum of Fisher Peoples (WFFP) is demanding that there be compensation for the families of more than 600 Indian fishermen killed by the Sri Lankan navy since 1984.

This was one of the issues that emerged from the WFFP’s meeting in Pondicherry, India last week.

The WFFP is also committed to ending ocean grabbing and deep sea fishing by foreign vessels in Indian waters as well as pressing for the rapid implementation of the International Guidelines on Securing Sustainable Small-Scale fisheries were discussed at an international annual meeting held in India last week.

Speaking at the meeting Mr Muhammad Ali Shah, the chairperson of the Pakistani Fisher-folk Forum and co-chair of the World Forum of Fisher Peoples (WFFP) said: “As a leading fishing nation in the region and the world, the Indian Government has a critical role to play to raise the standard for community based fishery management building on the principles of the International Guidelines on Sustainable Small-scale Fisheries”.

This was a comment based on WFFP’s resolution to take forward the implementation of the guidelines.

Mr Shah further called on the Indian government “to work closely together with the National Fish-workers Forum on the implementation of these guidelines.”

Giving special focus to the issues facing Indian fisheries such as foreign fishing vessels in India’s deep sea and encouraging traditional fisher communities to venture into deep sea fishing, the meeting made the following resolutions:

  • We commit ourselves to intensify the demand that the provisions of the UN law of the seas be seriously and fully implemented by the countries with adjoining sea borders, especially in the South Asian context.
  • On the issue of Indian fishermen who were shot and killed by the Sri Lankan navy, since 1984 the number has escalated and exceeded 600.

In their statement WFFP has said “The unfortunate truth is that the families of these fishermen who had been killed while fishing for livelihood are not compensated sufficiently so that the children could continue with their education. As WFFP we demand that sufficient and justifiable compensation be made to the families of these fishermen by the concerned governments”.

Over the years the arrest of fishermen in Pakistan, Sri Lankan and Indian waters has been a serious political issues.

To this they said:

  • We insist that a permanent solution be found to the issue of fishermen incarceration due to crossing national borders and entering the territory of neighbouring nations, in the case of the South Asian context. Promises for release of arrested fishermen are not sufficient, and it is important that a policy decision should be arrived by these South Asian countries – India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka – that no arrest will be made of fisher people who have crossed borders while fishing for their livelihood.

According to the Indian express: Pakistan maritime security forces frequently arrest Indian fishermen and seize their boats for fishing in its territorial waters. Sri Lankan Navy also arrest Indian fishermen for alleged poaching in Lankan waters. The Tamil Nadu government had been demanding the release of all Indian fishermen before bilateral talks to resolve the fishermen issue could resume. Sri Lanka had arrested over 160 fishermen despite the agreements reached at talks held in Chennai in January. The bilateral talks began in mid -January to find a solution to the fishermen issue that often boils into a major political controversy in India.

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