To end poaching by Indian fishermen, 5000 Sri Lankan fishermen in 1000 boats will be on a sailing protest shortly to Rameswaram
Five thousand fishermen from the North in one thousand boats will enter Rameswaram (India) shortly on a sailing protest and to seek the immediate halt of poaching by the Indian fishermen in the Sri Lankan waters.
Minister Douglas Dvananda said to Asian Tribune that he intends to lead the sailing protest by the fishermen of the North to Rameswaram to bring an end to the poaching by the Indian fishermen in the Sri Lankan waters.
He added that the sailing protest to Rameswaram is also meant to attract the attention of the international community of the injustices perpetrated by the Indian fishermen and the State Government of Tamil Nadu on Sri Lanka.
The Minister Douglas Devananda said they have planned to adopt a three step protest campaign and they want to complete all the three stages within 45 days annual ban of fishing maintained in Tamil Nadu. Normally the annual ban on fishing by mechanized vessels for the Tamil Nadu fishermen commences on 15 April and continues till 29 May.
The Minister said as an initial measure, a memorandum on behalf of the fishermen of the North was yesterday handed over in Jaffna to Mrs. Sushma Swarajh, the leader of the Indian Parliamentary delegation and also copies were given to other members of the delegation.
Sri Lankan Minister told Asian Tribune that the Memorandum was addressed to Dr. Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India and copies of this memorandum were forwarded to President of Sri Lanka and to J. Jayalithaa, the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu.
He further said that the second stage of their protest will be a "telegram campaign". He said the Northern Fishermen has decided dispatch thousands of telegrams (Cables) to Indian Prime Minister appealing him to take adequate measures to stop the Indian fishermen poaching in the Sri Lankan waters.
Sri Lankan Minister said the third stage of the protest would be the entry to Rameswaram by the Sri Lankan fishermen. He said nearly 5000 Sri Lankan fishermen in one thousand boats would sail to Rameswaram to urge the Union Government of India as well as the State Government of Tamil Nadu to bring an end to Indian fishermen entering into Sri Lankan waters.
Minister Douglas Devananda said the Jaffna District Fishermen Society Union Federation and number of Fishermen Societies Union from Jaffna, has expressed their serious and grave concern over the poaching daily by hundreds of Indian fishermen in the Sri Lankan waters.
He said that there are about 18,000 fishermen families in the North who are directly dependent in fishing for their livelihood and another 10,000 families indirectly dependent.
As the Indian fishermen come closer to the coast of Point –Pedro, Delft and other coastal areas in the peninsula, not only they illegally smuggle out the marine wealth duly belongs to the Northern fishermen, but also the Indian fishermen extensively damages the coral reefs as well as they damage the nets belonging to the northern fishermen as the Indian fishermen use mechanized deep-sea trawlers which are banned in Sri Lanka.
According to the Sri Lankan navy, more than 6,500 trawlers have been spotted near the Sri Lankan coast in the past two months.
The method used by the Indian fishermen in fishing in Sri Lankan waters is mechanized trawling, a highly destructive fishing method, which is not allowed in Sri Lanka, and many other countries including even India.
There are about 2,890 registered mechanized boats in Ramanathapuram district that has a vast coastline of 237 km - 141 in the Gulf of Mannar and 96 km in Palk Strait.
The satellite pictures clearly shows daily more than 600 to 800 Indian trawlers’ and mechanized boats cross the IBM and fish near the Sri Lankan coast.
In the meantime as a first step, the Fishermen Societies of Jaffna yesterday handed over a memorandum titled "Plight of Jaffna Fishermen" to the Delegation of Indian Parliamentarians Headed by Mrs. Sushma Swaraj to be handed over to the Prime Minister of India Dr. Manmohan Singh.
Copies of this memorandum were forwarded to the President of Sri Lanka and to the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu J. Jayalalitha.
Plight of Jaffna Fishermen
We, the undersigned Presidents Representing Jaffna District Fishermen Society Union Federation and eleven Fishermen Societies Union from Jaffna, Sri Lanka, wish to bring to Your Excellency's notice the extent of damage and the sufferings caused due to cross border fishing by the trawlers belonging to Indian fishermen.
There are several fish bangs in the Northern coastal area where rare varieties of fish, prawns, cuttlefish, crabs, lobsters and beech-de-mer were found in abundance. The natural resources for their life formation breeding were rich and the corals and plants in the sea around were excellent source for their multiplication.
These resources were tapped by our fishermen using traditional fishing methods such as mathal, drift netting etc. and by using maximum of 18' boats. They also did it in an orderly manner without damaging the natural growth of the sea lives and the fishermen had good catches.
The Coastal area people of the North, most of them are fishermen started fleeing their homes from early 1985 as a result of escalating violence since July 1983. Most of them took refuge in Tamil Nadu.
This vacuum gave way for Indian Fishermen to intrude into our territorial waters and fishing using mechanized fishing methods such as trawlers.
Those who sought refuge in India started returning after the Indo-Lanka Accord of 1987, mainly during 1992-93 periods. They restarted their livelihood with limited assistance from the Government, on barrowed capital and with the assistance from NGOs.
Then only we realized the irreparable damage that has been caused to our sea food resources, in the same manner the resources in the coastal area of India were depleted, as a result of mechanized fishing by the Indian fishermen. They not only use trawlers but also use pair trawling and tangush nets, which types of fishing are band in Sri Lanka.
The Indian trawlers not only continue to destroy the entire corals, sea plants and continental shells but also disturb the natural free movements of sea life diverting their directions. They even destroy our fishing nets causing irrecoverable damage to our livelihood.
There are about 18,000 fishermen families in the North who are directly dependent in this industry and another 10,000 families indirectly dependent.
The intrusion of the Indian trawlers into our territorial waters is not only an infringement of our fishing rights, but also the method of fishing used by them is against the laws of Sri Lanka. In addition, they continue to destroy our resources and damage our fishing gears.
We have already had discussions in this regard with representatives of the South Indian Fishermen in Colombo in 2004, in South India in November 2010, again in Colombo in mid 2011 under the auspices of Fisheries Minister and in Kachchativu on March 03rd this year under the patronage of Hon. Douglas Devananda, M.P and Minister of Traditional Industries and Small Enterprises Development.
Under these circumstances we request Your Excellency to take appropriate action to prevent the cross border fishing by the Indian Fishermen using mechanized fishing systems and tangus nets. We also propose for a joint patrolling by the Indian Coast Guard and the Sri Lankan Navy to stop cross border fishing.
- Asian Tribune –