When the federal government of India first brought in the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) in 1991, it was designed to protect the first 500 meters of India’s coastline and ensure preferential access rights for fishers. However, up until 2005 the act had been amended a total of 22 times in favour of industries and hoteliers, leading to a loss of access rights for many of India’s 8 million active fishers from more than 3300 coastal villages. The fishers who rely on their beach landing crafts to sustain a living have been denied access to the ancestral landing sites.
To make matters worse, it was proposed that the local fishing communities be moved away from the coast to give protection from natural disasters, further impinging on their rights to fish for a living . Thus, in order to protect the interests of the marginalized fishing communities, in the face of continuing difficulties, the National Fishworkers’ Forum (NFF) called a national action day on the 9th August 2008 to demand that the government consult the fishing communities.
When the groudswell of pressure from the numerous letters, faxes, cables and press conferences from the NFF members could no longer be ignored, the government consulted with the fishing communities about the proposed amendment of the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ). To aide in the cause of the people, the parliamentary standing committee produced a report in favour of the plight of the fishing communities.
Following on from this positive progress, the NFF was then called upon by the government in 2009 and 2010 to consult upon the new CRZ with the result being that the new regulations now protect the traditional settlements and fishing communities from any kind of forced eviction.0