Tributes paid to fisher people’s leader Thomas Kocherri

KARACHI: Rich tributes were paid to the founder leader of the World Forum of Fisher Peoples (WFFP) Thomas Kocherry at a function observing his first death anniversary, organized by Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF) at Ibrahim Haidery here on Thursday.

Speaking on the occasion, General Secretary of PFF Saeed Baloch lauded the efforts of late Kocherri for the fishing communities of the South Asia. He said late Kocherry fought for the rights of Indian fishermen, especially Backwaters region of Kerala. He was famous as a redemptorist priest, union leader, anti-nuclear activist and people’s movement educator.

Baloch recalled that in 1982 Kocherry was elected as president of the National Fishworkers Forum. In the mid-1990s he led a nationwide campaign to stop the Indian government from opening up the country’s fishing industry to a growing fleet of 2,600 large foreign trawlers. With 10 million Indians dependent on a sustainable fishery for their survival, the stakes were high.

He said Thomas Kocherry was anti-IMF leader and he struggled against globalization and neoliberal economic policies. Kocherry was a founder of the World Forum of Fisher People and became the leader of fishing communities of the world. Kocherry understood the tensions of fighting for the rights of the fishing community in an era of declining global fish stocks. The big fishing trawlers were exploiting the fishing resources and Late Kocherry fought against the big fishing trawlers.

Senior Vice Chairperson of PFF Ms Tahira Ali said that the entire fishermen’s communities were calling him “Father of Fishermen” as he fought for the rights of deprived fishing communities. She also read out a poem in memory of late Kocherry. She said Kocherry had lead anti-nuclear movement in India and PFF was inspired from his movements.

The other speakers of the meeting included President of PFF Karachi Majeed Motani, Senior Vice Chairperson Fatima Majeed, Talib Katchi, Ayoub Shaan and others. The event was attended by hundreds of fishermen of coastal villages of Karachi.

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