The National Fish Workers Forum(NFF) is making arrangements to accord a rousing reception to Lakshmi Murthy, a seaweed harvester from Chinnapaalam, village close to Gulf of Mannar (marine national park and member of Ramnad Traditional Fishworkers Trade Union, who received the 2015 Seacology Prize for Leadership from the United States. NFF chairperson M Illango in a release here today said that she will be reaching Chennai airport this evening.
Seacology, an US based organization, has selected Lakshmi Moorthy of Tamil Nadu, India as the recipient of the 2015 Seacology Prize.
Since childhood, Lakshmi has worked in the Gulf of Mannar as a seaweed harvester, a subsistence living for many of the women of her community. In 2002, that livelihood came under threat as the government, in a well-meaning but poorly designed action, began enforcing a marine reserve in their traditional harvesting grounds. The womens boats and even food and water were confiscated, sometimes by corrupt officials who demanded bribes to return them.Lakshmi helped organize the displaced workers into a federation, of which she became president. After a long period of negotiation with government representatives, NGOs, and conservation scientists, the group struck an agreement to protect both the environment and womens livelihood. In 2014, the government agreed to recognize the Gulf of Mannar seaweed collectors as a unique group of women fishers and issued them biometric ID cards, to protect them from harassment by officials. They are now freewithin the restrictions they themselves have imposedto safeguard the resource and to pursue their livelihood.UNI PAB VV ADB1549
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