Mid-sea protest by fishermen planned

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Sri Lanka’s Traditional Industries and Small Enterprises Development Minister Douglas Devananda said on Saturday that a mid-sea protest against Indian fishermen for poaching in the country’s waters will be staged by over 5,000 Lankan fishermen.

The protest would be held  during the annual feast of St. Anthony in the church on Kachchathivu Island, attended by Indian and Sri Lankan devotees, he told the Sunday Times.

He Indian fishermen were destroying the Sri Lanka’s aquatic resources by using illegal fishing methods and by continuing to intrude into the island nation’s territorial waters despite warnings.

“From time to time there were talks on the issue, but little or nothing has been done to prevent the intruders. It is time for the fishermen to protest,” he said.

Earlier this week, the issue of poaching was taken up at the Indo-Lanka Joint Commission Meeting and it has been decided that experts should study the issue, External Affairs Ministry Secretary Karunatillike Amunugama, who attended the meeting in New Delhi, said.

Jaffna District Fishermen’s Alliance President S. Thavaratnam meanwhile said many Sri Lankan fishermen were keeping away from sea as they could not compete with Indian fishermen.

“They (Indian fishermen) are using proscribed fishing methods and as a result some of our fishermen have given up fishing,” he said.

Academics from the Jaffna University, the Ruhunu University, members of the Southern Indian fishing society and representatives from a Netherlands University met in Jaffna recently to discuss possible methods to prevent poaching.

Provision of relief for affected fishermen in Sri Lanka’s north was one of the suggestions made at the meeting.
 

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