Dakshinbanga Matsyajibi Forum (DMF) was established by eminent leaders of fishworkers’ like Harekrishna Debnath, Nirmalendu Das, Gadadhar Das, Amulya Bar, Gopinath Das, Suklal Das, Shyamal Mondal in early 1990s to help develop collective strength of small scale fish workers of Southern part of West Bengal.
Registered under the Trade Union Act in 1992 [Regn. No.20474] DMF presently has more than 16,000 members from among fishers, fish farmers, fish vendors, fish sorters and dryers and other ancillary fish workers working in both marine and inland fisheries. The Organisational reach of DMF spreads over nine (9) districts of West Bengal – East Midnapore, West Midnapore, Jhargram, South 24 Parganas, North 24 Parganas, Howrah, Hooghly, Nadia and Murshidabad.
Present Office Bearers:
President: Debasis Shyamal
Vice Presidents: Tapasi Dolui, Jyotirmoy Saraswati
General Secretary: Milan Das.
Assistant Secretaries: Bidhan Ch. De; Abdar Mallick.
Treasurer: Achintya Pramanik
Principles & Policies:
DMF represents small scale fishers’ and fish farmers’ struggle for right to sustainably use the water bodies and fish resources and to protect those resources. DMF also represents the livelihood struggles of small scale fish vendors and other ancillary fish workers like fish sorters and dryers, net makers and menders etc. DMF represents the women fish workers’ fight for gender justice. DMF fights for the small scale fish workers’ right to finance, infrastructure, information, market and social security. Last but not the least – DMF demands recognition of the occupational dignity of fish workers – Government Identity Card.
HIGHLIGHTS OF STRUGGLE
1996 – Delhi March to protect the coast from encroachments and pollution, for banning foreign fishing vessels and for implementation of Murari Committee Recommendations.
1997 – Hunger Strike under Gandhi statue at Kanthi on 21 demands like Kerosene and diesel subsidy, implementation of Murari Committee recommendations and CRZ Notification.
1999-2000 – Movement against Sahara Mega Tourism project in Hooghly river estuary and in Sundarban. Sahara was forced to withdraw.
2000 – Hunger Strike at Kanthi demanding relief and savings scheme, Cycle and tray for fish vendors, gloves and shoes for fish sorter women. All the demands were realized.
2000-2003 – Struggle against eviction of 10,000 fish workers from seasonal fish drying on Jambudwip island. State Government agreed to provide 100 hectares of land on Jambudwip for fish workers. Case pending in Supreme Court.
2005 – Coastal Padayatra (march) from Khejuri to Digha under the leadership of Harekrishna Debnath with the slogan ‘ Save Water, Save Coast, Save Coastal People”.
2006-2007 – Movement against proposed Haripur Nuclear Power Plant. The newly elected State Government in 2011 rejected the project.
2008 – Joining the historic Coastal Campaign organized by NFF under the leadership of Harekrishna Debnath. As a result the ill conceived CMZ Notification was withdrawn.
2009-2011 – Demise of Harekrishna Debnath. Onslaught of vested interest led corruption in the coastal fish workers’ organisation of Purba Medinipur. Organisational crisis and recovery. Spread of organisation to Sagar island and Sundarban.
2012 – Spread of DMF organization to Howrah and Hooghly Districts. Submission of memorandums. Eight days’ Boat Rally in the rivers and creeks of Sundarban in December 2012. Struggle for implementation of Forest Rights Act in Sundarban demanding right to fish and right to protect fisheries resources.
2013 – The continuous movement in Sundarban has brought in some partial reliefs for fishing communities. District wise Campaign, Workshop, Conference and submission of memorandum by the Fish Vendors’ Union of East Midnapore. Successful movement of fishing communities at Sagar Island against threat of eviction.
2014 – Spread of DMF organization to North 24 Parganas and West Midnapore Districts. First recognition of fish vendors as fish workers through issuance of Biometric Identity cards. Hunger strike and rally in Sundarban, suspension of anti-fisher circular issued by Forest Department.
2015 – Initiative to develop connections with small scale fish workers’ organisations across the country to raise the voice and concerns of fishing communities on national issues. Opposition to Land Acquisition Ordinance of Government of India. Rejection of the Draft National Tourism Policy 2015. Signature campaign by Fishing communities of Sundarban to implement Forest Dwellers’ Rights Act. Matsyajibi Adhikar Padayatra in Sagar Island. NGT Scraps Thermal Power Plant on Nayachar Island. Regional Workshop on National Policy on Marine Fisheries. Opposition to proposed amendments to CRZ 2011. Opposing Rampal Thermal Power Plant adjacent to Sundarban in Bangladesh.
2016 – Spread of DMF organization to Jangalmahal. Three submissions on three consecutive drafts on National Policy on Marine Fisheries. Objections to Draft Wetland Rules; EIA amendment Notification; Draft Geo-Spatial Information Regulation Bill, 2016. First Deputation of Tiger Widows to claim their rights. Workshops on Women Fish Workers, Preferential Access to Marine Fish Resources. Founding conference of National Platform for Small Scale Fish Workers (Inland).
2017 – DMF spreads to Murshidabad. DMF facilitates formation of Vessel Crew Fish Worker Union in mechanised fishing sector in West Bengal. Tribal Fishers fight back brutal torture of forest staff in Sundarban. DMF protests alleged replacement of CRZ 2011 Notification by MCRZ Notification. Action Survey & Campaign by DMF to save Bidyadhari River. Women Fishworkers’ State Level Workshop. Demand to Roll Back GST on Fisheries Sector. Protesting RCEP Negotiations on behalf of Fish Workers of India. Submission to the Department of Fisheries, Govt. of West Bengal on Management of Marine Fish Resources. Fish Vendors’ demonstrate at Kanthi. State Level Deputation of Women Fish Workers.
2018 – DMF Objections to MoEF&CC Notification Amending CRZ-2011 admitted by NGT for hearing, workshops conducted in the states of West Bengal, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat, 2,100 protest letters sent by fisher people. Opposition to Proposed Merchant Shipping Corridor Along the Coast. Save Mathabhanga-Churni River Campaign and Cycle Rally. DMF demands demarcation of land belonging to rivers to prevent river bed encroachment. Meeting Convened by District Magistrate Recognises Concerns of Fishing Communities Raised by DMF – Assures Steps to Resolve Problems. National Workshop on Preferential Access of Small Scale Fish Workers to Marine Fish Resources. DMF Women Fish Workers’ delegation meets the fisheries minister. DMF initiates organisation building of fish workers in North Bengal.
2019 – DMF adopts ‘Right to Water’ of small scale fishers and fish farmers as main demand. DMF requests all political parties to include small scale fishing communities’ demands in their Election Manifesto. DMF joins protest against RCEP negotiations with fish workers of India. Nadia – Campaign for rejuvenation of Ichamaty and Sundarban – DMF initiates tiger widow collectives. Murshidabad – fishing communities rally against destructive mosquito net fishing. Purba Medinipur – New fish market at Satmail – decade long struggle of Fish Vendor Union achieves success. Struggle for rehabilitation of Fish Vendors at Pichabani achieves success. Women Fish Workers Make First Ever State Level Deputation to Fisheries Minister in West Bengal. Women fish workers in West Bengal – two days’ workshop cum interactive session. Citizens’ Meet & Press Conference on Tiger Widows. DMF submission on draft national mariculture policy. Mass Demonstration of Fish Workers on 21 point charter of demand. Stop fratricide, defeat political factionalism, bloodshed and murder – DMF comes out against inter-party violence. DMF submission on the draft “National Marine Fisheries (Regulation & Management) Bill, 2019”. DMF Demands Fishing Communities’ Livelihood Security on Border Areas with Bangladesh. United Movement of fish vendors compels the Government to excavate Paharpur-Balighai Canal without eviction of vendors.
DMF Annual Report 2022-2023
DMF Annual Report 2021-2022
DMF Annual Report 2019 Bengali
DMF Annual Report 2018 Bengali
DMF Annual Report 2017 Bengali
DMF Annual Report 2016 Bengali
Report DMF AGM 2016
Report DMF AGM 2015
DMF Annual Report 2003 English
DMF Annual Report 2002 English
DMF Annual Report 2001 Bengali
DMF Annual Report 2001 English