PERSPECTIVES OF THE TRADITIONAL FISHWORKERS ON SEA TURTLE CONSERVATION
Secretary, Orissa Traditional Fish Worker’s Union, Ganjam
Sana Aryapali, PO: Bada Aryapali, Via: Ganjam, Orissa, 761 020
The Orissa Traditional Fish Worker’s Union (OTFWU) is the largest union in the State representing the interests of traditional fishworkers of Orissa. Recently the union has actively advocated for the traditional fishworkers stating that excessive turtle conservation measures have impacted their livelihoods. We have articulated our responses to the official sea turtle conservation measures in Orissa. Key points of the appeal by OTFWU to the Supreme Court’s Central Empowered Committee, dated 19th February 2004 are detailed below:
- The present system of protection solely entrusts the forest department with powers that are often abused at the village level.
- Traditional fishermen must be made partners in conservation efforts at all levels.
- No traditional fishing gear should be banned without adequate and scientific study and data.
- Fishworkers displaced due to ban on any particular gear should be provided with adequate financial assistance for shifting to any other allowable gear.
- OTFWU will voluntarily ban the use of 3 types of nets that trap turtles.
- Areas within the Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary that do not have turtle congregations should be declared as buffer areas. Within these buffer areas the existing fishing restrictions need to be revised to allow traditional fishing practices that do not impact turtles.
- In case of a complete ban on any particular area for a particular period, all affected fishermen of that are must be compensated for the loss of income for the same period. Adequate financial allocations for this purpose must be a component of the conservation program.
- Traditional fisherfolk using traditional gears should be differentiated from mechanised gears like trawl nets.
- For each of the turtle congregation areas, joint management/ monitoring committees comprising of traditional fishermen, officials and scientists should be formed. This committee should decide upon the exact period, nature and extent of restriction on fishing activities depending upon field observations.
- The OTFWU also states that following fisheries management measures need to be undertaken as part of a more holistic marine conservation approach: Stop collection of prawn seeds from sea and creeks.
-Stop intensive aquaculture in the coastal zone as per the SC judgment by Justice Kuldip Singh, 1996.
-Strict implementation of monsoon ban on trawling from 15th June to 31st August.
-Enact National Marine Fishing Regulation Act to cover entire EEZ.
-Diversify the existing trawlers and mechanised fleet to harvest deep-sea resources and thereby reduce overcapacity in traditional waters.
-Stop water pollution from industrial establishments, sewerage, tourism, commercial ports and oil exploration etc.
-Bring about aquatic reform conferring rights to the traditional fishing community to own and manage water bodies, fishing crafts and gears and distribution/marketing of fish.