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Govt of India pushing for national fisheries policy despite Covid-19 crisis: NFF

By Our Representative
The National Fishworkers’ Forum (NFF), India’s apex body of major fishworkers’ associations across the country, even as demanding financial assistance to fishworkers, has regretted that despite the coronavirus pandemic, the National Fisheries Development Board (NFDB), a Central government body, has called for comments from stakeholders on the draft National Fisheries Policy 2020.
Uploaded on NFDB website on the April 28, ironically, there is no mention about it on the official site of the Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying, the NFF said, demanding, “All larger policy changes in the sector should be put on hold.”
Calling the drafting of a National Fisheries Policy an “intensive process that requires consultation with the stakeholders, especially the fishworkers’ organizations of the marine as well as inland sectors”, NFF said, “The proposed draft is a very hurriedly published document without any consultation with stakeholders at any level and without any serious thought.”
“At a time when on account of the lockdown, individuals and organisations are unable to physically meet and conduct consultations, it is highly improbable that the response to the draft will be reflective of the needs and demands of the stakeholders”, NFF said.
“In addition this draft is in English and needs to be translated into the regional/ vernacular languages and made accessible and there should be a specific time period given”, it added.
The principal advisor to the Prime Minister chaired a meeting on December 3, 2019 wherein presentations were made on the proposed draft National Mariculture Policy and National Inland Fisheries and Aquaculture Policy.
The proposed draft is a very hurriedly published document without any consultation with stakeholders at any level
After detailed discussions, it was decided that the Department should prepare a comprehensive “National Fisheries Policy” covering all sub-sectors of Fisheries such ad inland, marine, aquaculture, mariculture and post activities harvest activities.
On February 12, 2020, two office orders were uploaded on the website of the Department of fisheries namely Draft National Fisheries Policy, 2020 and Draft National Fisheries Policy, 2019. The latter was an office memorandum (F.No.j-1101/10/2019-Fy) dated February 6, 2020 addressed to the secretaries of the concerned department/ ministries with the deadline of February 14, 2020 for comments.
In a reply by the Minister of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying on March 17, 2020 to Parliament, the Ministry stated that “the Government of India envisages bringing out a National Fisheries Policy for the holistic development of the fisheries sector.”
However, the NFF statement, signed by Narendra R Patil (chairperson), T Peter (general secretary), said, “A glance through the Draft Fisheries Policy reveals that it is not holistic in nature as the premise of this policy itself is flawed.”

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