Fisher people pushed to the edge

Development along coasts has left little space for fishing communities to carry out their activities. Their catch is also diminishing because of industrial fishing
Fisher people pushed to the edge

Ports, industries and sand mining is eating into the Indian coastline. More than half the 6,000-km-long mainland Indian coast has been taken over by these activities. Close to 30 per cent of the shoreline is getting eroded today as against 22 per cent in 2004 due to sand mining and indiscriminate construction. All this has left little space for fishing communities to carry out their activities, reveals a report of the National Coastal Protection Campaign, a collective of environmental organisations and fishworkers' associations. The fishers are also threatened by industrial fishing, which corners the majority of the fish catch share. A factsheet:  

Coastal landgrab

  • 1,262 settlements (cities and villages) exist along the coasts, occupying 1,411 kilometre or 21 per cent of the coasts

  • 1,571 SEZs, power plants and other industrial projects occupy 713.5 km, which is close to 11 per cent of Indian coasts

  • 143 ports occupy 104 km of coastline. Considering that a port impacts an area of 20 km radius, almost 3,000 km or 45 per cent of the Indian coast is affected by these ports

  • Maharashtra has the highest number of 44 ports, followed by Gujarat which has 32 ports. On an average, there is a port every 30 km of coastline

Disappearing beaches

  • In 2004, 1,214.75 km or 22 per cent of the coast was affected by erosion. Currently, 1,624.435 km or close to 30 per cent of the mainland coast is facing erosion

  • Around 300 settlements along the coasts have been blocked by around 516.8 km-long seawalls to prevent beach erosion

  • Kerala with 80 per cent sandy beaches has maximum seawalls, 215.9 km long, followed by Gujarat which has 117.9 km-long seawalls

  • The loss of beaches and restricted access to sea due to seawalls is affecting the livelihood of fishing communities in several coastal villages

Fisher communities bear the brunt

  • Around 4,000,000 marine fishers live in 3,288 fishing villages in India. Close to 61 per cent fisher families live below poverty line

  • Total fish landing in India in 2010 was 3.07 million tonnes with gross revenue at the point of first sale being Rs 19,753 crore

  • Majority of the fishers (more than 65 per cent) are engaged in small-scale or artisnal fishing. However 70 per cent of the total fish catch is brought in by mechanised boats, which provide employment to only 34 per cent fishers

  • Out of the total 194,490 vessels engaged in fishing, 37 per cent are mechanised, 37 per cent motorised and 24 percent non-motorised. On the contrary out of the total 167, 957 craft fully owned by fishers, only 23 per cent are mechanised, 24 per cent are motorised and 53 per cent are non-motorised


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