7th National Conference of Autonomous Women's Movements Oppose Swaminathan Committee

The participants of the 7th National Conference of Autonomous Womens' Movements, 9 – 12 September, 2006, Kolkata passed a resolution oppposing Swaminathan Committee Report on Coastal Zone Management. The resolution of the conference noted that The MS Swaminathan Committee report recommendations to the government released in February 2005 to "manage" rather than regulate coastal areas represent further erosion of both fishing communities' rights and the integrity of the coastal ecosystem. Since these recommendations which are likely to form the basis for new coastal legislation, the participants said that they threaten rights of the fishing communities as well as coastal environment.

The resolution of the women's movements demanded:
1. That no move be undertaken to dismantle the existing CRZ 1991 notification 2. That no policy level or legal changes be undertaken without the direct participation of fishing communities and their representatives, including trade unions, in the decision-making process
3. That the right to land and means of livelihood of fishing communities be recognized and formalized with immediate effect.

The resolution was initiated by the Theeradesa Mahilavedi, the women's wing of Kerala Swatantra Matsya Thozhilali Federation (KSMTF). Magline Peter and Freesca Kurishappan, the representatives of the Theerades Mahilavedi said that various women's groups all over India expressed support to the struggle of fisherpeople to protect their livelihood and the coastal environment. More than 2,500 participants belonging to more than 250 women's groups all over India participated in the conferenc

RESOLUTION
Resolution on Fishing Communities' and Fisher Womens' Rights to Life and Livelihood in the Context of Proposed Neo-liberal Coastal Policy Changes
Proposed by Theeradesa Mahila Vedi (Women's Wing of Kerala Swatantra Matsya Thozilali Federation (KSMTF)), Trivandrum, Kerala (email: tmv@sify.com)

We, the participants of the 7th National Conference of Autonomous Womens' Movements, 9 - 12 September 2006, Kolkata, recognize that:

1. Fishing communities in India have inalienable rights on coastal areas and resources based on generational customary use which include:
a. The right to housing in coastal areas and existing fishing villages
b. The right to use of coastal lands for occupational purposes
c. Right of free access to sea and marine resources

2. These rights have been continuously eroded by development policies that privilege industrial and commercial activities such as mechanized trawling, sand mining, foreign trawler fishing, and establishment of nuclear facilities, unplanned industrialization, urbanization, tourism, and biosphere erosion.

3. New economic liberalization policies are an attack on the existing rights of fishing communities and expose coastal areas to unregulated exploitation by market forces.

4. Globalization and economic liberalization affect fisher women most adversely through increased:
a. Unemployment/underemployment, leading to the predominance of women-headed households, and consequent burden on women who have to perform roles of both the primary earner and domestic caregiver
b. Domestic and social violence as a result of the disintegration of fishing communities leading to alcoholism, gambling and other problems among men
c. Burden of domestic work due to depletion and salinity of ground water
d. Livelihood struggles in the context of takeover of traditional occupations, livelihood resources and spaces by market forces

5. The MS Swaminathan Committee report recommendations to the government released in February 2005 to "manage" rather than regulate coastal areas represent further erosion of both fishing communities' rights and the integrity of the coastal ecosystem. These recommendations which are likely to form the basis for new coastal legislation:

a. Propose to dismantle the regulatory aspects of the existing Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Notification of 1991
b. Ignore the livelihood rights of fishing communities
c. Propose to include and make available for commercial exploitation territorial waters upto 12 nautical miles

We therefore demand:
1. The stringent implementation of the CRZ 1991 notification and punitive action against past and present violations of the notification
2. That no move be undertaken to dismantle the existing CRZ 1991 notification 3. That no policy level or legal changes be undertaken without the direct participation of fishing communities and their representatives, including trade unions, in the decision-making process
4. That the right to land and means of livelihood of fishing communities be recognized and formalized with immediate effect.

Secretary
Theeradesa Mahila Vedi
(Women's Wing of Kerala Swatantra
Matsya Thozilali Federation (KSMTF))
No.55, Garuda Buildings,GPO Lane,
Statue, Thiruvananthapuram-695001,Kerala.
Phone:0471-3012196 Mobile:9447154491,
E-mail:tmv@sify.com