The National Fish Workers' Forum (NFWF), New Delhi, which is a national federation of trade unions and organizations of fishworkers, has opposed the proposed designated corridor for merchant ships at high seas,so as to avoid ship-trawler collission on the western coast by the Director General of Shipping (DGS),New Delhi. The corridor is proposed to be ready within a fortnight.
Narendra Patil,chairperson, of the Maharashtra Chapter of the NFWF, has opposed the move and said the fishing community were not taken into confidence, nor their suggestions sought. In a protest letter to Nitin Gadkar, Union Minister for Shipping, the NFWF has blamed the DGS for favouring major shipping companies so that the latter could avoid compensation due to the collissions of merchant ships with fishing trawlers at mid-sea. The Nautical Adviser in Charge, DGS, has said a concrete traffic separation scheme for the west coast from Gulf of Kutch and the Gulf of Khambat (Gulf of Cambay) down through the coast of Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, and Kerala till some some distance beyond Kanya Kumari in Tamil Nadu is proposed and the consultations are in the final stages, said Patil. Till date, the DGS has not consulted any fishing association in this regard, and allegedly have lied to the Union Shipping Ministry, and if the corridor is allowed, the livelihood of scores of small fishermen would be lost, as no trawlers would be allowed to move, as there are chances of colliding with huge merchant navy ships at the midsea, said Patil. The corridor is 20 nautical miles ( 1 nautical mile is 1.8 km) wide and would be located 15 nautical miles away from the nearest coast, and this is the prime fishing area, where marine products thrive and the Ministry would be banning on fishing in the above stretch,said Patil,which is unjust. Though the DGS claim that the corridor will not pass through dense fishing zones, but we are not believing this theory and thus we want the fishing community to be taken into confidence,said T Peter, General Secretary, NFWF.
According to DGS, there has been an increase if mid-sea mishaps, especially along the Kerala coast which has dense fishing activity, and it was decided to create the corridor to avoid such collisions at mid sea. To this, the NFWF said, the proposal is favouring the big shipping companies and the fishing community would be in the lurch and affecting our livelihood,which we are dependent on fishing,and hence we have pleaded to Gadkari to hear us also, and then decide on the traffic corridor at high seas,said Peter.