In a strong condemnation of the blue economy model, the National Fishworkers’ Forum (NFF) has voiced its concerns over the devastating impacts on coastal communities and marine ecosystems. The NFF accused Union govt of portraying the destruction of oceans and the livelihoods of ocean communities as ‘sustainable’ development.

Olencio Simoes, general secretary, NFF, called upon the people’s forces to unite and protect the oceans. “The NFF demands the initiation and passing of the Coastal Right Bill in Parliament to safeguard the rights of coastal dwellers and the environment,” he said.

The blue economy policy, championed by international financial institutions over the past decade, has witnessed amendments to crucial environmental acts, including the Forest Conservation Act, Biodiversity Act, and Coastal Aquaculture Act. “Despite warnings from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) about the increased risk of flooding in South and Southeast Asia, the Centre and the G20 remain focused on exploiting ocean resources,” the NFF said. This, the NFF argues, leads to the displacement of coastal communities in favour of corporate interests.

The NFF highlighted the adverse effects of changes in the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) notification in 2019 and attempts to privatise major ports. “The push for cultured fisheries over traditional capture methods has shown negative impacts elsewhere, notably in Indonesia.

The government’s proposed Draft Indian Ports Bill, 2022, and the National Blue Economy Policy, 2021, raise concerns about the centralization of state ports and the push for deep-sea mining.” NFF said. As the battle between environmental conservation and economic development rages on, the NFF said it will continue protecting the identity, culture, and way of life of the fishing community, urging collective action for the preservation of our oceans.