India Today - - LEISURE - —Moeena Halim

Once the cap­tain of the Sam

Si­mon—a Sea Shep­herd ves­sel pa­trolling the Arc­tic to catch il­le­gal tooth­fish op­er­a­tors— Sid­dharth Chakravarty now has a very dif­fer­ent view of the bat­tle.

When the con­ser­va­tion group’s Op­er­a­tion Ice­fish nabbed the Thun­der for il­le­gal fish­ing in 2015, Chakravarty and his sailors saved 30 In­done­sian fish­er­men from drown­ing af­ter the Cau­casian of­fi­cials run­ning the ship opted to scut­tle the ves­sel and flee. “It was so rem­i­nis­cent of the hi­er­ar­chies of the colo­nial era. The of­fi­cers had their suit­cases packed, while the fish­er­men were scram­bling to save what they could,” he re­calls.

The in­ci­dent con­vinced him that ac­tivism was cre­at­ing a se­ri­ous prob­lem for an al­ready-vul­ner­a­ble com­mu­nity and even­tu­ally led him to leave Sea Shep­herd for an MSc in the pol­i­tics of con­flict, rights and jus­tice at SOAS, Lon­don.

“In cer­tain cases, en­force­ment cre­ates more con­flict,” he says, point­ing out that two mil­lion mi­grant work­ers are em­ployed by fish­ing com­pa­nies. He be­lieves it’s only a mat­ter of time be­fore the In­dian fish­ing in­dus­try goes the same way. “It may not be mi­grant work­ers, but it’ll be some other vul­ner­a­ble com­mu­nity,” he says.

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