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LALIT Communique on Aquatic Business Activities Bill


LALIT has studied the Draft Aquatic Business Activities Bill produced by the Ministry of Agro-Industry and Fisheries. We wish to protest against Government signing away to private business operators the people of Mauritius rights to the "domaine public".

Lalit warns against Government granting leases to private businesses for the "exclusive occupation" of portions of the sea, lagoons and also land near the coastal waters, as the Bill proposes, whether for marinas, aqua-culture
or pumping sea-water.

The private businesses that the Bill seems to seek are those with expertise, capital enough to pay for rents and licences, and up to eighty percent foreign interests.

As it is, increasingly fishermen and the Mauritian public are deprived of access to beaches and lagoons. Private guards already police beaches in front of hotels, and more and more hotels are being constructed, taking up more and more of the coastline. IRS projects on the coast will take up more beach, and effectively keep Mauritians away as hotels already do. Many campements will also be auctioned by the State to international businessmen.

At Riviere Noire, there is fishing club that has already denied fishermen and the public access to the beach by pouring lorry-loads of rocks on to the beach. Now, this new Bill puts the lagoon and sea at risk of morcellement and privatization.

Lalit believes that all developments in the "domaine public" should be in the public interest, and not for private profit. Development of aquaculture,if it is found to be useful, should be done by fishermen, in the interests of the public, and in a sustainable way. Private marinas are not in the public interest, they exclude fishermen, often barring them from their pirogues, damaging the environment and creating hostility with the public.

We call for Government to withdraw the Bill.

Cindy Clelie

11 June 2007