Indian Koli Fishing Community Human Rights Study Published

Credit: Human Rights at Sea
Credit: Human Rights at Sea

By The Maritime Executive 09-03-2019 10:16:23

Human Rights at Sea has published a baseline field report for the Koli fishing community who live and work at sea in Mumbai, India.

Undertaken in the field during the monsoon season, the charity’s local researchers spent time with the fishermen, their cooperative societies, local community representatives and government officials to understand the levels of awareness, advocacy and understanding of individual’s human rights as they apply within the community.

The Koli community have been the indigenous community of Mumbai for over five centuries. Their fishing is mostly small-scale, often involves crews of three to five who fish daily from boats about 20 feet long. Much of their activity is concentrated less than five nautical miles from shore.

The following recommendations are made from the report:

1. Improve education and awareness.

There have been no serious attempts in the past by either government authorities or cooperative societies to make fishermen and their families aware of their fundamental rights. While government authorities are reluctant to engage with NGOs fearing backlash against their commercial development projects, the societies are keen to promote activities that contribute to the welfare of fishermen. An alignment with the different societies in Mumbai to distribute information and conduct training sessions could prove beneficial for the fishermen in the Koli community.

2. Improve information dissemination.

According to conversations with the fishermen, most of the dissemination of information in the Koli community occurs through social media websites such as WhatsApp and Facebook. There are established social media groups which include most of the community living in the fishing villages or “koliwadas” which can be used in order to spread awareness about human rights issues.

3. Use younger educated community members as focal points.

The presence of people who have attained higher education within the Koli community can be used as focal points to engage the others in conversation surrounding human rights at sea.

The baseline study will be followed by other similar studies in seafaring communities around the world which may otherwise be currently unreported and therefore have little, or no visibility, with the international maritime community.

The study is available here.