World Fisheries Day Statement – 2020

Let us build a strong social movement to assert people’s rights in the face of blue economic challenges

National Fisheries Solidarity Movement has approached to its important milestone in the struggle of achieving and ensuring the rights of the small scale fishers, working people, marginalized groups and peoples those who face injustice in the 23 complicated journey of the organization. We have overcome the all challenges that we faced in the historical journey.  We are commemorating the world fisheries day in the movement of facing the whole people to the most ferocious disaster in the world history.  Although the whole people including fisher community are facing the most ferocious challenge in the world history, we commemorate the world fisheries day without giving up our attempt in order to show the haughtiness of the fishers to the world. Focusing on the culture, values, environment, livelihood traditions related, we celebrate the world fisheries day commemorating the leaders those who did the great service, committed and departed from us for ensuring the rights of the fishers in the various struggles.  We do oath that we devote to ensure the rights with haughtiness of the fishers through the struggle going on the way of victory handed down by the former leaders.

Working people including small scale fishers are the most affected people due to the Covid pandemic. Enacting quarantines curfew needful, isolation and locomotion restriction have created a major impact to the fisheries industry. It can see the closing landing sites, disrupting to the transportation, inactivate the ice supplies and providing storage facilities, no sellers and the market in the country. Reporting the corona positive patients of the central fish market in Paliyagoda, the incorrect information which did not scientifically confirm disseminated among the people as “it communicates virus through fish“developing negative attitudes of the people on eating fish.  People’s giving up the fish consumption has directly influenced to decrease the fish market and refulgence the   fisheries industry as well.  We emphasize the government to involve changing the negative attitude of the people in eating fish socializing the correct information through a scientific approach being directed the government stakeholders like NARA, research institute related to the fishers and researchers in the health sector. The World Health Organization and Food Sovereignty Authority of the Europe Union also have confirmed the inability of communicating the Covid-19 through food.  We emphasize that the attempt of shifting the responsibility for the fisher community ignoring the real responsible group of the second phase of the pandemic is a reason to destroy the fisheries industry.

The roles of small scale fishers are very important in the context of challenging the food sovereignty locally and internationally. They provide health and nutritious   food in the low price as well as it is a source of providing livelihood opportunities for the millions of people in the world. Fish protein help to increase the immunity of the body and it supports to generate antibody to fit against the Covid virus in the body. 

We are unable to ignore the impact of climate change while we concern the sustainability of the small scale fisheries industry. The International Panel on Climate Change continues to warn of irreparable damage being done to oceans and inland water bodies. Sea-level rise, tropical storms, ocean acidification, and coral bleaching are negatively impacting cycles of life and the livelihoods of fishing communities. Despite government promises to reduce carbon emissions and deliver on the Paris Agreement and growing talk of ‘Green New Deals ’actions tell a different story. We see an ever increasing expansion of mining, oil, and gas exploration in our territories at sea and in inland water bodies.

Meanwhile, small scale fishers are being squeezed more. Our fishing communities being hit hard by worsening natural disasters and are being expropriated to make way for big infrastructure and conservation projects in the name of economic development and climate change adaptation.

Economic crisis has sent waves of capital towards the planet’s last frontiers – the oceans and inland water bodies. In the name of ‘development’ and ‘job creation’, so-called ‘blue growth’ is now widely pushed as the saviour. National governments, intergovernmental bodies, and the corporate world have unleashed a wealth of new ‘blue’ initiatives and unprecedented capital investments in well-established sectors such as oil and gas, port development, shipping and tourism, and in new sectors such as deep-sea mining, smart cities and bio-engineering. Corporate bodies, such as the World Ocean Council and the World Economic Forum, and government initiatives, such as the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy, are busy shaping the future governance of oceans.

 ‘Marine Spatial Planning’ is being touted as the way for all ‘stakeholders’ to solve conflicts over access rights and decide on how oceans shall be governed. Yet, our experiences with Marine Spatial Planning show that small-scale fishers have little, if any, say in who should have rights to resources and territories and for what purpose. We are regularly approached to participate in ‘blue’ initiatives — but only after the agendas and political direction have been set, and our presence merely serves to tick the ‘participation’ box of multistakeholderism and legitimize processes. . At the same time, working people in small-scale fisheries continue to face criminalization and expropriation as a direct consequence of so-called development of the ocean economy

Rights of the working people and small scale fishers are being violated in the process of blue economy development directly.  Although it has passed three decades starting the sustainable programs of UN, two decades passed introducing Green Economy concept after first initiative and being one decade of the blue economy initiative, it is unable to see that the governments respect the human rights of the fisher communities.

We force the government to establish the policies to strengthen the process of building the dignity and haughtiness of the people, ensue the right of the people to access the sea, tank and lagoon developing livelihoods, as well as ensue the rights of the people those who engage with the small scale fisheries industry in this world Fisheries Day commemoration.

We demand climate reparation, restoration of nature, and restitution of rights that have been taken away from us. We call upon all governments to acknowledge our vital role in contributing to eradication of poverty and hunger and remind that we, by magnitude, make up the most numerous segment of all working people dependent on the ocean for livelihoods and income.  We convince that fisheries resources can be used to redevelop the decreased economy due to the pandemic. We emphasize that not only save the 500 Dollar Million which flow to the foreign countries due to important the fish related food per year but also there is a possibility to earn two-fold  like important cost through exporting fish related items per year. It will be important us in two ways such as developing the economic background of the fishers and it can contribute to settle the budget deficit of 3500 Billion in year 2021.  We certify that it can make self- sufficient Sri Lanka by using the resource in the identical sea and internal water bodies in the country.

We force to establish policies to practically apply the voluntary guidelines which were introduced by the World Food and Agriculture Organization ( FAO)  and accepted by the government for the small scale fisheries industry. This is the best period for that because the government is on the process of establishing a national fisheries policy.

We demand to establish a appropriate Sri Lankan sustainable fisheries policy which protect the rights of the small scale fishers against the blue economy utilizing the capacity and skills of the youth and sharpening, focusing the guidelines which create the background to obtain the optimal contribution of women for development, recommendations of International Labor Organizations ( ILO) and voluntary guidelines for small scale fisheries industry as well

May Sri Lankan fishermen win!

May world fisher people’s struggle win!

May fisher, farmers, labors, oppressed people’s unity win!