Life is back on sea for Karwar fishermen

Life is back on sea for Karwar fishermen

Submitted by Editor on Sun, 2016-03-06 10:04 Karwar: After close to a year, Karwar fishermen have finally got their right back! Their right to fishing in seas. On Friday, the Uttar Kannada district administration decided to allow fishermen to venture into the sea and carryout fishing activities which were restricted a year ago in the name of tourism development.It may be recalled here that the district administration had razed down fishermen’s shelters, reasoning that Karwar beach needs to be developed as a tourist attraction. Their contention was: unloading the catch on the beach would paint a poor picture before the tourists. They wanted the fishermen to shift to Aligadda beach, which – according to fishermen – was not a place for fishing.Despite protests by the fishermen, the officials brought down the thatch-roofed houses with cranes and a few of them were set on fire too.  Karwar beach that borders with the neighbouring Goa attracts visitors from far and wide. However, the district administration had allowed the members of Harikantha community – who solely depend on fishing – to carry on with their business in only a partial stretch of the waters. Apart from fishing activities, fishermen anchor their boats here, clean and weave nets. But the district administration’s decision to evacuate the fishermen to promote tourism had cost their daily bread.Uttara Kannada district alone has about 2,000 traditional boats. While some of the fishermen use jet engines, a few of them still depend on traditional method of fishing. The Karwar beach alone has about 500 traditional fishermen.Vittal K Harikanta of Harikanta Sangh, Karwar said, "We are not against development as this would generate employment opportunities. But what the district administration has done is nothing short of harassment. They had damaged our boats and used cranes to evacuate us. It was a big blow to our livelihood.” “However, now the authorities have understood our plight and allowed us to continue fishing activities since Friday,” he added.“This is the only profession we – members of Harikantha community – know as our forefathers have been fishing in these waters since many years. We venture into the sea at 3 am and return only before sunset,” said Ratnakar Durgekar.Fishermen could not have moved to Aligadda stretch as work on a new port is underway there. "There is no security over there,” said Santhosh Ulvekar of Nada Doni Sangha.However, Prashanth Kumar, Assistant Commissioner, Karwar defended the decision of razing down huts claiming that they were illegal and had become haven for illegal activities. Arguments that they wanted to promote tourism were far from truth, he said.Fishermen can carry out their activities in the same stretch without any hurdles, the assistant commissioner added.