Globalization ruinous to fisheries (Kocherry)


Jan Slakov

Dear RN list,

Thomas Kocherry, co-ordinator of both the World Forum of Fish-harvesters and
Fishworkers [WFF] and the National Alliance of Peoples Movements (India),
speaks not only of the grave situation many of the world's peoples and the
world's fisheries are in, but also of what people are doing RIGHT NOW, in
India and elsewhere, to resist wrong-headed "development" (or globalization).

all the best, Jan

Date:   Tue, 20 Jul 1999 22:16:11 -0400
From: Eric Fawcett <•••@••.•••>
Subject: sfp-18: Globalization is ruinous to fisheries

Thomas Kocherry along with Herman Daly was awarded the International
environment and development prize, the Sophie prize, on June 24.
His speech on this occasion follows:

June 15, 1999, Oslo, Norway.

Dear chairperson and friends,

Today we are in the context of GLOBALIZATION - LIBERALIZATION. The words
look very attractive, but the vast majority of the people, are the victims
of Globalisation. Globalisation began with COLONIALISM. In the sixteenth
century Europe was overpopulated and the people began to migrate from
Europe to other continents as if they were discovering new places. It
ended up with conquering other places and people. Sword and Cross went
together. They forcefully enslaved and converted natives and indigenous
peoples. They conquered lands, exploited the resources and accumulated

In the 20th century, the world witnessed the uprising of peoples for
political freedom. However economic exploitation continued through
Multi-National Corporations (MNCs) and Trans-National Corporations (TNCs).
But the rich and the ruling class of the newly freed 3rd world countries
generally sided with the MNCs for their own advantage, against the
interest of the common people.  Again the natives and the indigenous
peoples were the worst hit.  As a result, according to a UN study, today
the 20% Northern minority of humankind has:
82.7% of world gross national product
81.2% of world trade
94.6% of all commercial lending
80.5% of all domestic investment
80.6% of all domestic savings
94.0% of all research and development

It is in this context that we should understand GLOBALIZATION today. Those
who have more are bound to get more. This means more accumulation and
centralisation. The Northern 20% people are better placed to take away
even the 10-20% of the wealth in the hands of 80% people in the South. The
real Centre is G8 countries and of course the USA is the real centre of
the centre. They are wielding POWER of WEALTH and ARMS. They are placed in
a better position for quick profit at the expense of the vast majority of
people and the environment. All the rest are in the periphery.  Thus,
PHERIPHERALIZATION of the vast MAJORITY is the other side of

In the period following de-colonisation and political independence of the
Third World (South) countries, particularly after world war II, the
international relationships among the countries at bilateral and
multilateral levels were considered very important and viewed as mutually
beneficial. This language and practice seems to be in the wane today.  
The Northern MNCs want to take over the control of UN. If the UN does not
dance according to their tune they will not give their share. They are
more interested in strengthening the WTO than the UN.

They talk of DEMOCRACY and HUMAN RIGHTS but they have NO CONCERN FOR
PEOPLE IN THE SOUTH. Market economy determines everything, there is no
has become a weak instrument.

Globalisation is beneficial to those who have. All those who are have-nots
are the victims. Globalisation is a mechanistic process (and therefore
most easily manipulatable by the wielders of power) in the face of which
there is no choice and alternative. This is the most insidious aspect of
this ideology: that it could present itself as the only possible way of
being. It creates a certain sense of inevitability and absoluteness.
Outside Globalisation-and Market Economy, there is no salvation.

Let me show how this is true as regards the fisheries sector. In the 1990s
fishing reached the point of diminishing returns. Many fish populations
have fallen to levels from which they can no longer recover without
significant reductions in the catches or a moratorium on fishing. There
are simply too many boats catching too many fish. The first surge in
numbers of fishing vessels occurred during the industrial revolution. This
upwell tapered off during the two world wars, but boomed again in the
1950s through 1970s. The world's fishing fleet doubled between 1970 and

More than 100 million people in developing countries (South) are dependent
on fisheries for our livelihoods. For us fishing is a way of life, not
just a source of income. The Sea is our MOTHER. Traditionally, small-scale
or artisanal fishers have provided fish for local consumption; but as fish
becomes scarce and its value increases, it enters the global market and
becomes unaffordable for common people. In the process we are displaced
and the MNCs take over completely.

Most governments, particularly of the North, are trying to prop up an
unsustainable fishery. According to the FAO, every year governments world
wide pay US $ 116 billion to catch just $ 70 billion worth fish. Developed
nations, which have over fished their own waters, have headed into the
waters of the developing nations. The European Union (EU) has around 40%
more vessels than necessary to catch fish on a sustainable basis. Volatile
'fish wars' are a common place. There are more than 1 million large
industrial fleets in the world. They have depleted all the oceans in the
world. They have become a threat to the 100 million fisher people in the
world. Further these have organic

The fresh fish caught by the industrial vessels are converted into
fishmeal for the production of shrimp. Ten thousand tons of fish that
would have been available for common people are converted into fish-meal
to produce one thousand tons of shrimp that only the rich can afford to
buy. Further coastal shrimp industry depletes fishing grounds, salinates
drinking water, destroys mangroves and displaces fisher people and
agriculturists who depend on these resources for their livelihood.
Further, the North American Free Trade Agreements (NAFTA) have shifted
polluting industries to the coastal belts of the developing nations,
threatening the very lives of small fishing communities who are totally
dependent on fishing and fishing alone.

All over the world the victims of Globalisation -the small fishing
communities- are realising the need of coming together to establish our
right to life. We want to establish our right as persons.

The World Forum of Fish harvesters and Fishworkers is the result of this
realisation. The Forum is involved in a campaign to establish the right of
the fishing communities to own the water- bodies, including seas and
rivers, fishing implements and distribution of the catch. The management
of the distribution of the catch should be done by the fisherwomen. We
have declared November 21 as WORLD FISHERIES DAY to claim and to campaign
for this right.  We wish to establish our right by exercising our duty,
even through struggles and sacrifices. The 10 million fisher people in
India were able to change the government policy of Joint and Lease Fishing
through long standing struggles. The Canadian Fisher People have been
fighting against huge fishing vessels. The Gloucester Fisherpeople in the
USA, particularly the wives of fishermen, have succeeded in banning
factory trawlers through a legislation. In Senegal, fisher people are on a
war path against destructive fishing. In Brazil the fisherpeople are
involved in a struggle against predatory fishing. In Pakistan and in South
Africa the fishing communities are struggling to establish their right to
life. Thus the fisher people both in the North and South, who are victims
of Globalization, are involved in establishing a new paradigm of
Development and Politics.

We, the fisher people in India, are part of a larger alliance - the
National Alliance of Peoples Movements (NAPM)- all of whom are victims of
Globalization. There are over 150 peoples movements in this alliance, not
only struggling to survive, but searching for alternatives to the present
form of development which in the long run is destructive for all. It is
through these struggles that the whole of humanity is going to be saved.

True development is not by conquering and enslaving, not by accumulating
and centralizing, not by displacing peoples and destroying cultures. True
development is only by integrating and working together, through
distributive justice and decentralisation by nurturing and including
Native and Indigenous peoples. It is here that the struggles of the
victims of mega dams in India can be understood. There are 3600 mega dams
in India. These have displaced 50 million natives, tribals and
fisherpeople and have proved to be MASS DESTRUCTIONS rather than
DEVELOPMENT. These victims are involved in a long standing struggle to
create a new paradigm of DEVELOPMENT, where native skills and technologies
are enhanced, small is accepted as beautiful and sustainable and
simplicity has become a way of life with due respect to native cultures.
We have gone to the extent of JALASAMATHI- sacrificing ourselves in the
rising reservoirs- rather than inflicting violence upon others, for the
creation of this new paradigm. Right now, about 400 leaders, representing
different movements in India -Farmers, Fishworkers, People displaced by
the Narmada project and others- are in Europe campaigning against MNCs,
TNCs and the WTO.  For the first time such a mass campaign is taking
place. The victims of GLOBALIZATION are asserting their rightful place in
this planet.  We feel an urgent need to create a new paradigm of
development and politics, a paradigm in which all human beings have right
to live, with equal access to the resources and opportunities. Development
cannot be measured solely by the quantity of production, but by its
sustainability by its capacity to protect the livelihood of all human
beings. Production should be coupled with distributive justice. There is
no Development for the sake of Development. True Globalisation should make
free movement of labour unhindered by national boundaries.  Let the year
2000 be a real Jubilee Year; let the debts of the developing countries be
wiped out; and let all nations experience true freedom and equality.


Thomas Xavier Kocherry
Co-ordinator,  World Forum of Fish-harvesters and Fishworkers [WFF]
Co-ordinator, National Alliance of Peoples Movements (India),[NAPM]
Velankanny, Junction, Valiathura,  Thiruvananthapuram 695 008,INDIA
Phone & Fax: +91 - 471 - 50 1376;
E-mail: •••@••.•••   Website: