Empowering local fisher governance institutions for coastal regulation and management

Aarthi Sridhar, Marianne Manuel, Arundhati Jagadish

India abounds with legislation that regulates and manages activities in its coastal spaces. However, there is little room for coastal and fisher communities to participate in the design, operation and implementation of these legal frameworks. After years of persistent campaigns by fisher groups, the CRZ 2011, included a provision mandating State and Union Territory Coastal Zone Management Authorities to consult District Level Committees (DLC) comprised of at least three representatives of coastal communities (including fishers).

While the CRZ 2011’s DLC provision offers a platform for the participation of fisher communities in coastal governance and decision-making, the law is silent on procedures for formation of DLCs and selection of community representatives, as well as the scope of the Committee’s powers, roles and responsibilities. The onus is on State governments to formulate DLC protocols, publicise the committees, solicit appropriate community representation and ensure consultations with these groups in coastal decision-making.

As a result in most coastal states around the the country, DLC’s are either non-existent or on-paper committees that are unable to function as effective platforms for decentralised coastal governance and bridges between locals communities and governments with respect to coastal issues, as envisioned in the CRZ 2011.

Over the years, Dakshin has worked with fisher unions and communities in coastal districts of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and West Bengal in order to assess the state of DLCs in these regions as well as barriers to their effective functioning. We continue to engage with these groups by creating and distributing local language resource materials and conducting awareness and training workshops on the various provisions of CRZ 2011 and DLCs. We also drive and support community efforts to formulate and submit DLC protocols for official consideration and demands for DLC formation in various states.

Additionally, we also support communities to draft submissions in response to coastal development plans and participate effectively in coastal planning and decision-making through platforms such as Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) public consultations and public hearings held for different coastal development projects, Coastal Zone Management Plan (CZMP) public hearings, and more.


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