Many fishermen held a protest at Jantar Mantar in Delhi on Thursday against the National Marine Fisheries Regulation and Management (MRFM) Bill demanding its rejection. Former Defence Minister AK Antony supported the protesting fishermen and said that they have gathered to protest against the bill, irrespective of any religion. Antony alleged that the BJP government had earlier claimed that the fishermen will be provided homes in the coastal areas but later allowed hotels and resorts to be built in the same areas.
He also said that if the law is passed, several fishermen will be jobless. Opposing the law, he also assured that opposition party leaders will also join the protest.
Former Union Minister KV Thomas said: "The government is privatizing everything. The draft that has been proposed in the parliament has threatened the entire fishermen community."
Thomas added that following the floods, storms and heavy rainfall conditions in the coastal areas, fishermen have been prohibited from residing in the areas which have affected their livelihood.
"This agitation will go further if the Bill is not rejected," he said. The draft of the Marine Fisheries regulation and Management Bill, 2019 is slated to be introduced in the Parliament soon, which states that fishing vessels without licenses would be banned as per the legislation.
Over 250 fishermen who were in distress in rough sea conditions were rescued with the combined efforts of Indian coast guards and merchant vessels transiting in the Arabian sea. Responding to a message from Tamil Nadu Fisheries authority Kolachel intimating about the distress of 50 stranded Fishing Boats at a distance of 250 Nautical Miles West of Goa.
After receiving a distress call on December 3, about seven Merchant Vessels transiting through the area responded to the Coast Guard Maritime Rescue Centre were requested to assist in the rescue operation of the distressed fishing boats until the Indian Coast Guard ships arrived in the area.