Associations say thousands depend on them for livelihood

Associations say thousands depend on them for livelihood

Various organisations working for the cause of fishermen have urged the State government to ensure that inland fishermen do not lose their traditional fishing rights at dams, lakes and tanks.

There are over one lakh inland fishermen in the State, who depend on waterbodies maintained by the Fisheries Department and the Public Works Department.

“They can fish for a maximum of eight months in a year. Rest of the time, the waterbodies run dry. A government order in the 1990s mandated that priority should be given to inland fishermen over others when it comes to fishing rights. That should continue to be implemented. The government must not look to make profit in these cases since the livelihood of thousands of families is involved,” said K. Bharathi, South Indian Fishermen Welfare Association.

Kabaddi Maran of the Tamil Nadu Meenavar Munnetra Sangam said there was a move to allow others to fish in these lakes and tanks with profit being the motive. “The practice all these years has been to allow fishermen’s cooperative societies to pay a nominal amount towards lease for the year and allow them to let fingerlings in the waters, rear them and then catch and sell them. They just about manage to survive with the income.”

P. Narayanasamy of Andhiyur Besthavar Meenavar Cooperative Society said that a couple of years ago the PWD had called for tenders for their Varattu Pallam dam but after great difficulty, which involved going to court, it was cancelled. “We are hoping that the government would respect our rights. We want tourism projects to take off on lakes so that we can sell fish to visitors, which would mean more income,” he added.

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