characteristics of fisherfolk characteristics of fisherfolk

Socio-economic characteristics of fisherfolk and its attributes such as their educational and occupational status, income and expenditure details, materials procession, their knowledge level, decision making behaviour, scientific orientation, marketing behaviour, collectivity, awareness, etc. are very essential and the followings are the views of the socio-economic characteristics of fisherfolk

The socio economic status of marine fisherfolk of India has improved a lot since independence, but much lower than the other sectors of Indian economy. The coast line of India is 8129 kms with 3202 marine fishing villages and 1332 landing centres with an Exclusive Economic Zone of 2.02 million Sq. Kms which is likely to be further increased. This is equivalent to 2/3 rd of our land area requiring massive investment and plan allocation for sustainable balanced development. The marine fisher population in India is about 6 million, of which 3.5 million are currently residents of coastal fishing villages.

There are 12.5 lakh people employed in primary sector of active fishing in marine fisheries, of which 9 lakh live in coastal fishing villages. Secondary sector in marine fisheries including net mending, marketing of fish, peeling, curing, preservation and processing provides employment to more than 15 lakh people of which 50 % belong to the coastal fishing villages. In tertiary sector of marine fisheries, there are about 2 lakh persons of which about 1 lakh are residents of coastal villages. Women are employed in secondary and tertiary sector in marine fisheries forming 48 % of the total labour force in these segments.

Most of the fisherfolk in the coastal fishing villages do not have proper title deeds and proper housing with basic amenities. Inspite of several developmental programmes to provide housing and title deeds, still 40 % of them live in huts and Kutcha houses and substantial number within the CRZ.

The literacy rate among fisherfolk in maritime states of India is as low as 57 % as against all India literacy rate of 65 %. The literacy rate of fisherfolk varies from 33 % in Andhra Pradesh to 73 % in Kerala coast, of which 50 % of them have not studied beyond primary level.

As far as ownership by fishermen households is concerned, the fishermen households owning crafts and gears has reduced from 43% in 1980 to 32% in 2005 which again can be attributed to the increasing capital requirement and low disposable income available with the households for investment. Most of the non-motorised units are operating as family enterprises. Lack of adequate finance and credit facilities does not allow these fishermen to go for modernization and come out of the vicious circle of poverty and low-income trap.

There is a wide disparity in income between those engaged in different sectors. The annual per capita catch of fisherfolk involved in mechanized sector is 3701 kg, 1320 kg for motorised sector and only 408 kg for non mechanised sector. This phenomenon results in marginalisation of the indigenous sector by the motorized and mechanized sectors and frequently creates conflicts among fishers in resource sharing.

The incidence of poverty in marine fisheries sector is much higher than any other backward sectors in the country. Fisher families living below poverty line is estimated about 60 %, which is far higher than the national average of 26 %. This can be attributed to reasons including seasonal nature of fisheries, intra and inter sectoral disparities, overexploitation of marine resources leading to lower per capita production, earnings and disguised unemployment

Last modified: Wednesday, 1 February 2012, 9:37 AM