SL Navy restricts fishing in Manalkaadu

[TamilNet, Friday, 13 September 2002, 21:12 GMT]
The Sri Lanka Navy has re-imposed draconian restrictions on fishing in the Manalkaadu area on Jaffna's southeastern coast from Thursday, fishermen from the region said. They were also ordered by the SLN to obtain special identity cards and permits for setting out to sea. "The SLN has no legal grounds for imposing restrictions on fishing in this manner," said Mr. M. K Sivajilingam, Tamil National Alliance MP for Jaffna.

"The Emergency Regulations under which they were empowered to do so are no longer in force. It is in violation of the Ceasefire Agreement's purpose and spirit. This is an alarming development," Mr. M. K Sivajilingam further said.

The Sri Lanka army and the Sri Lanka Navy banned fishing along many parts of the Jaffna peninsula's sea and lagoon coasts since 1996. Even in the few areas where there was no ban, fishing was severely restricted. Fisherfolk were required to have special identity cards and permits to ply their trade and live in their villages. (Sri Lanka's Supreme Court ruled on 5 September 2002 that the pass, identity card system violates the right to freedom of movement)

Beaches on the peninsula's northern and eastern sea board and long stretches of the Jaffna lagoon coast were blocked with military concertina fences and security bunkers to implement the restrictions and ban.

All this changed when the LTTE stipulated during negotiations with the government of Sri Lanka (GOSL) that ceasefire agreement should provide for easing the sufferings of the Tamil fisherfolk and that Colombo should lift the restrictions and ban on fishing to help coastal communities in the northeast rebuild their lives in an atmosphere free from fear.

The GOSL acceded to the LTTE's request and promised to remove all restrictions on day and night fishing by the 90th day of signing the agreement.

However, Tamil politicians say that the GOSL re-introduced the threat of controls on fishing in the northeast with the gazette notification dealing with the subject issued under the draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act on the 90th day of the signing of the agreement.

Others argue that the SLN is bent on sabotaging the peace process.The SLN has ordered Manalkaadu fishermen to set out to sea only between 4 a.m. and 6 a.m. and that should get back to shore before six p.m. the same day.

There are more than 400 fishing families in the area. Many who fled the intense fighting in the region in March – April 2000 have begun returning to ply their trade and rebuild their homes here.

Manalkaadu is about 10 kilometres from Pt. Pedro town. There are 234 catamarans and eight fibreglass boats in the village and its coastal environs.

"We wrote to Tamil National Alliance MPs about the SLN order. So far we have had no answer from them. We will start a protest if the SLN does not lift the restrictions in a week," a spokesman for the Manalkaadu Fisheries Cooperative Society told Tamilnet Friday.

 

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