Friends of the Earth India – PRESS RELEASE
Day one of the Conference of Ocean People (C-OP) to counter the UNOC 2022.
The Conference of the Ocean People (C-OP) commenced on 26th June 2022 brought forward the diverse historical claims/testimonies uniting the ocean people for the first time on a global platform asserting their customary rights over the ocean. It showcased the cultural diversity within the ocean people as people participated and shared their views from different parts of the world like South Asia, Africa, South America, Caribbean Islands. Along with hundreds of people joining from the coastal states in India via community screenings at the ground, academicians and international media also joined in large numbers. This conference has been organised to alert the United Nations Ocean Conference, being held between 27 to 1 July 2022 in Lisbon, Portugal, to the possibility of submergence of 50 major coastal cities, globally and 6 cities in India due to the rise in temperature of the ocean because of continued exploitation of our coastal areas.
The conference had speakers from all over the world throwing light upon the implications of Blue Economy, ocean grab policies on the historical customary rights of the ocean people. Eminent scholar and environmental activist Dr.Vandana Shiva said “the challenges that fisher peoples face in terms of their livelihoods, which they have sustained over millennia, are being criminalised today. The fish and the fisher are being expected to disappear.” Nadine Nembhard, General Secretary of World Forum of Fisher People (WFFP) added, “We want to assert our historical and customary rights. We are sustainable fishers and seek to protect our coastal land for future generations. This conference is a way to challenge historical injustices faced by the ocean people. This is the way to survive for us”. Jason Jarvis, from Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance (NAMA) said, “Fishing isn’t something we do, it is who we are!”
Esra Dwi from PPNI-Lampung, Indonesia talked about “the shift from catch fisheries to aquaculture, which has taken away the historical rights of the fishing community”. Leo Colaco, chairperson of National Fishworkers Forum (NFF) India, released a video on “Let Us Stand up for Ourselves and Stand Up for Our Oceans” which highlights the struggle of the ocean people from all over the world. Jones Spartegus, NFF India, said “We are facing #BlueApartheid. In India, there is corporate loot of the ocean resources through the Blue Economy Policy and the leasing out of the ocean through Marine Spatial Planning. In the process, the ocean people have been dispossessed of their homeland, their identities erased, their historical customary rights subjugated.”