More on fish please

Published: Wednesday 15 December 2004

The world is getting serious about its dwindling marine resources. There is a large amount of frightening data on it. But hardly do these touch the fisherfolk -- those who would be ultimately affected by this catastrophe. The website of the Kerala Swathanthra Malsya Thozhilali Federation (SMTF) -- a rare politically independent union of fisherfolk -- fills this gap. Since 1980, the union has played a very serious role in influencing marine policies. For example, its campaigns led to a ban on on bottom fishing by trawlers in the Arabian Sea.

The website provides a digital chronology of SMTF's activities. It carries status reports about fisherfolk already ravaged by restrained access to resources. It also mentions policies that are already playing truant with fisherfolk lives. Then there are sections that describe SMTF's initiatives to create alternative livelihoods. However, a website such as this one needs to be more than just a profile. Given SMTF's experiences, one yearns for more. For example, we need to learn how artificial reefs are being used to revive marine resources in a few villages.

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