Suspension Of Trawler Aid Victory For Indian Fishermen
NEW DELHI - Joint opposition of the Indian and Dutch public has forced the Dutch government into suspending the financing of the 8 out of the earlier proposed 17 shrimp-trawlers as a part of the Dutch aid program for India. The Dutch ministry of development co-operation will soon conduct an inquiry into the possible harmful effects of the introduction of trawlers on traditional Indian fishermen. A final decision as to whether India should be supplied trawlers at all under the aid program will be taken by the Dutch govemment within a few months.
Nine trawlers built by two Dutch shipyards, however, will be delivered to India in September as the contract for these ships between the Dutch shipyard companies and the Indian buyers have already been signed. But, a decision in regard to the financing of the other 8 trawlers will be taken only after an elaborate study on the possible harmful effects of export of trawlers on traditional fishermen of India, it has been assured by the Dutch government.
Strong protests against the proposed introduction of the Dutch trawlers had been registered by the National Forum for Catamaran and Countryboat Fishermen's Rights and Marine Wealth, a representative body of 13 traditional fishermen's unions in India, and the India Committee of the Netherlands, which has been supporting progressive movements in India to evoke solidarity among the Dutch people with these movements.
The Dutch government has been negotiating with India on the supply of trawlers, mainly "deep-sea trawlers for multi-purpose fishing" since 1976. But due to various reasons the deal could not get through. Funds had been allocated for as many as 41 trawlers in 1980 by the Dutch government. Again in
January 1981 an allocation was made for 17 shrimp-trawlers - "not deep-sea trawlers for multi-purpose fishing." These trawlers are 23.5 metres long and only good for shrimp fishing owing to their limited motor-capacity.
According to the arrangement, the Dutch government is to give soft loan that can be paid back in
30-years (with an interest-free period of 8 year and a rental of 2.5 per cent) for buying these ships. The Indian government, on the other hand will give soft loan through the Shipping Development Fund Committee on different conditions to the businessmen and companies that buy the trawlers.
The introduction of mechanised boats and trawlers for fishing purposes in the shallow along the coasts have been adversely affecting the traditional fishermen. Shrimps which are concentrated in the coastal waters are being overfished and the catches of traditional fishermen have been declining. The import of the shrimp-trawlers would have only aggravated the hardships of the traditional fishing community comprising over 6.5 million people.