The challenges faced by the fishing community on the present crisis initiated by climate change, are being discussed at a time when the fish resources are already diminishing due to many environmental and developmental factors, with an additional social and ecological problem created by the invasion of foreign fishing vessels in India.The traditional fishing community here depends on their daily catches for survival and they also depend on their own calculations of fish availability during every season. These calculations based on thousands of years collective wisdom of the fishing community is today being upset with the present crisis. Rains do not pour when they are supposed to. When it does not rain, there is a drought and when it rains there are floods. The pattern of the winds have also changed with more and more storms in the coastal areas. The breeding and growth of fish depends on the ecological balance of the sea. Every change in this ecological balance affect the fish and in turn it affects the very survival of the fishing communitys.
The Rise in the Sea Level:
With the increasing rise of the sea level, the crisis faced by the fishing community due to invasion of the sea sea, is increasing every year. Every year more and more houses of the fishing community are being destoyed. The number of refugees of climate change in the coastal areas is increasing every year. The beaches used for keeping the equipments of the fishing community as well as activities like drying fish or sports activities of children and youth wothin the community are no longer there like earlier. The invasion of the sea has also generated an opportunity for a lobby with commercial interests to make money by constructing sea walls with active support from both political parties and the government officials. The sea walls have become a a hindrence for the activities of the fishing community in many ways. They are also replacing the natural protection systems like sand dunes and mangroves. The scientific community has not spoken a word against this unscientific method of dealing with the fragile coast.
The Declining Fish Resources:
With the increasing temperature of the sea due to climate change,small fish and plants in the sea vainish first. The changes in theavailability of oxygen threaten almost all species. The fishpopulation in the surface of the sea decline fast. The changes in thepattern of the waves and the pattern of the wind affect the migration of the fish. Many varieties of fish can get extinct with these changes. The ecological relation of the sea with the rivers and forests are crucial for the breeding and survival of the fish. The climate change destroys this mutual ecological dependance. A large number of marine as well as inland fisher people who depend on this ecological connection are thus being threatened today.
The Traditional Knowledge of the Fishing Community:
The fishing community has the power to perceive any small change in the climate and the sea. The traditional fisherpeople go to the sea observing the smell of the sea and the routes of the wind. The presence of sea birds are indicators to the fishing community to know in advance about the availability of specific fish varieties. Hence the fishing community is realising that the changes of ecological balance due to climate change is afffecting the very roots of their survival in many ways.
The traditional fishing commnity contributes least carbon di oxide in the atnosphere However, this community is affected maximum by the release of carbon by the big carbon by the big companies and the mainstream world. Fisherpeople and farmers become the first victims of climate change. Relief measures are undertaken by the establiment when any disaster takes place. But a disaster like which happens as a daily routine affecting a large number of fisherpeople is not subject to any relief or compensation. The fisherpeople and farmers do not climate change. The scientific community does not attempt to combine the time tested traditional knowledge of the fishing community with the modern scientific knowledge.
It is time to realise the role of a destructive developmental model which has brought in this disaster of climate change. We have to actively campaign for a sustainable energy production, sustainable agriculture and sustainable industry. The politics of the big super powers in the international scene has to be resisted. We have to actively work for the unity of all maginalised communities who are immediately threatened by climate change. I deeply wish that this conference will initiate a process and support for such a significant action.