India with her 6000 km coastline and innumerable rivers, lagoons, lakes, reservoirs and ponds, has one of the largest population of fisher people in the world. The total population of fisher people is over 7 million with one-third depending on marine fishing and the remaining two-third on fishing in a variety of inland water bodies. The fishing communities are generally very poor. Despite having had greater importance in the ancient times, fisher folk were relegated to the status of low caste during the medieval period. Still the community always enjoyed a certain autonomy and dignity in the past.
With the introduction of export oriented mechanized deep sea fishing and aquaculture, the threat to the livelihood of fisher people has necessitated fishworkers to organize themselves and forge new linkages. The growth of All Goa Fish Workers' Union, the Kerala Independent Fish Workers' Federation, the Tamilnadu Fish Workers' Union, are a result of assaults on the fishworkers' livelihoods. Fisheries being a subject handled by Stte Governments, most fishworkers organizations have been and are at State level. The National Fish Worker Forum is an all India organization that represents the interests of and unites these local movements.
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