Members of riverine communities often derive their livelihoods from fishing in the rivers around them. Many members of these riverine communities tend to take their fishing rights for granted: assuming that nobody would be interested in depriving them of their ‘God-given right to fish’ in the rivers within their environments. It therefore tends to come as a great shock for them to learn that their fishing rights can be contested — and possibly even taken away. It is against that background, then, that we need to appreciate the fact that one of the best forms of legal assistance to give to members of riverine community may be by way of helping them to secure their fishing rights.
For the members of riverine communities to secure their fishing rights, they often need to organize themselves and form companies or co-operatives. It can be very tricky for individual fishermen to secure fishing rights, especially when they happen to be up against bigger corporate entities competing for the same fishing rights. But if all the members of a given riverine community who have interests in fishing ‘gang up’ and form a company or a cooperative society, then they easily become ‘invincible’.
For the members of the riverine communities to secure their fishing rights, they often need to ‘ring-fence’ their fishing fields. Here, of course, the focus in on legal ring-fencing: not physical ring-fencing. But given the fact that rivers are natural resources, to which ‘everyone has a right’, this sort of ring-fencing can actually turn out to be more complex than initially expected.
At yet another level, for the members of riverine communities to secure their fishing rights, they often need to work closely with attorneys, on an ongoing basis. Having retained the services of a given law firm, it becomes necessary, at the very least, to maintain regular correspondence with the firm. Nowadays, this can easily be done through email. To this end, a riverine community with fishing interests can set up a SBCglobal email account, with the intention of using the email account to maintain correspondence with the attorney. Once the account is set up, all that would be required would be for someone (say, the secretary of the community), to make a point of regularly going to the SBCglobal login page, and logging into the account, to see if there is any new correspondence from the attorney. If there is none, a point should still be made to send a note to the attorney (still using SBCglobal.net email): even if it is just a ‘good wishes’ or ‘regards’ note. The objective is to create a relationship with the law firm: so that when the need arises to use its services (in protecting fishing rights), it would be on the basis of an existing, thriving relationship.