New Delhi: The day three of the 7th General Assembly of World Forum of Fisher Peoples (WFFP GA-7) discussed the Small-Scale Fisheries (SSF) Guidelines that was signed by member countries of FAO in June 2014 at Rome. Discussing the various aspects of the guidelines, the WFFP delegates from member countries shared their experience of working with government organisations and stressed on the need for fisher organizations to monitor the implementation process.
The SFF guidelines, developed through a series of consultations in which WFFP, was a key player, is a framework of action for all stakeholders of fishers and most importantly, the most vulnerable and marginalized groups including women and indigenous fish workers. The SSF guidelines take human rights based approach and are meant to be folded into national laws. WFFP stated that as a tool, SSF guidelines belong to the people and they need to ensure that no one, including big conservation initiatives coopts and take them over.
Contextualizing the situation in Canada, Arthur Bull (Advisor to the Coordinator Committee, WFFP) stated that some of the industrialized countries like Canada argued in the FAO that there are no human rights issues or poverty in fisheries in their land. But through processes of advocacy and policy engagement with the Canadian government, the fisher organizations got the government to change their position. He added that currently, in Canada, the fisher organizations and allies are working for the implementation and monitoring of these guidelines.
Mujabul Haq Malik (Coast Trust, Bangladesh) stated that being a member of FAO, Bangladesh has signed the SFF guidelines and now are in the process of adopting the same. He said, “We ensure that to sensitize the government to implement the guidelines, the fisher people should demand that it be implemented with the support of Civil Society Organisations.”
Jesu Ratinam (NFF, Tamil Nadu) detailed the situation in India and said that although India also adopted SSF guidelines, it will remain a mere document if no legal measures are taken to implement it. She stressed that the rights of small scale fishworkers will become a reality only if the government guarantees a legal sanction to it. Venugopal (ICSF, Chennai) added that the Government of India has recently come up with the National Marine Fishing Policy; the second part lies in implementing it and stressed the need for the fishworkers’ organisations to start the dialogue with the government at a national level on how to make the policy operational.
The second half of the programme discussed Climate Justice which was attended by Leo Saldanha (ESG, Bangalore), Shalmali Guttal (Thailand), Dr Alex Hernet, Ashok Chowdhary (All India Union of Forest Working People), Nadine (WFFP, Belize) and T. Peter (NFF, India). Issues such as financialisation of natural resources, impact of climate change on fisherfolk and the natural resource based conservation was highlighted.