Vadamaraadchi North fishers mobilise against Colombo's discrimination

[TamilNet, Sunday, 19 July 2020, 22:33 GMT]
Former Tamil paramilitary operative Douglas Devananda, who collaborated with the genocidal military of occupying Sri Lanka, is now SL Minister of Fisheries in the “caretaker” cabinet of Rajapaksa regime. Sinhala poachers from South are allowed to encroach and engage in destructive fishing along the coast of the occupied country of Eezham Tamils. The quisling minister is citing the law imposed by the SL State during the times of war. The law is known as Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Act of 1996. “The 1996 law was drafted with southern fishers in mind. It has not taken into consideration the concerns of Tamils. We are not opposed to others fishing here. But, we are opposed to poaching and destructive fishing methods destroying our fishing ecosystem by the Sinhala fishers,” said N. Varankulasingam, the chairman of the Federation of Vadamaraadchi North Fisheries societies.

“However, when we oppose the methods adopted by the Sinhala fishers, the authorities cite the Act of 1996. But, they don’t even follow it,” he said.

Even according to the 1996 Act, purse seiners should not be allowed to fish within 7 km from the coast. But, what happens here is that three times more boats have been allowed to do that. Besides, they also use dynamites and several other prohibited methods, he said.

In the meantime, Mr Devananada has hijacked almost all fisheries societies using his political power and installed his collaborators in leading roles to suppress the opposition from the fishers.

However, several grassroots activists in the fisheries societies decided to launch a boycott protest starting from 19th Sunday to 24th Friday.

The fishers from Vadamaraadchi North also formed an independent federation, Independent Fishers Centre, under the leadership of V. Arulthas.

The Tamil fishers oppose churukku-valai (purse seine nets), sea cucumber collection and the diving fishers deploying destructive methods of fishing.

India has banned sea cucumber collection because when sea cucumbers are gone, there would be no fishing ecosystem along the coast, V. Varanakulasingam said.

When our neighbour India has banned sea cucumber fishing, the SL State is not prepared to follow suit. But, it is preoccupied with catching sea cucumbers in massive scale for export to far eastern countries, he said.

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