Feature Article

Fatal blow on Eezham Tamil fishery follows Indo-Lanka ‘defence’ agreement

[TamilNet, Saturday, 08 January 2011, 01:14 GMT]
From Maathakal to Mannaar, several millions worth fishing nets belonging to Eezham Tamil fishermen, laid in the Palk Bay even very close to the shores of the country of Eezham Tamils, were systematically destroyed this week in a highly organised way by trawlers coming from the Tamil Nadu coast. The destruction of Eezham Tamil fishery in the Palk Bay follows immediately the defence agreement signed between New Delhi’s Defence Secretary Pradeep Kumar and Colombo’s Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa in the last week of December. While an agreement has been reached between the two establishments on the security of sea-lanes, as in the past many protocols of it remain a secret. Both the establishments in New Delhi and Colombo have joint interests in bringing in a wedge between the Tamil fishing communities on either side of the Palk Bay.

On Tuesday and Wednesday hundreds of fishing trawlers from the Tamil Nadu coast entered the waters very close to the coastline between Maathakal in Jaffna Peninsula and Peasaalai in the Mannaar Island and destroyed several millions worth of fishing nets along with their fish catch.

The whole sea looked like carnival grounds, as Indian trawlers numbering 150-200 lit up the sea just 1.5 km off Peasaalai on Wednesday evening and engaged in the destruction of nets.

Travellers along A14 Mannaar - Thalaimannaar Road were shockingly witnessing it from Kaaddu-aasuppaththiri junction around 6:00 p.m. Wednesday.

The poaching trawlers carried out bottom trawling very close to the coast to destroy the fishing nets.

Fishermen in Peasaalai lost all their nets and they can’t do any fishing for sometime now. Around 4,000 families of Eezham Tamil fishermen are seriously affected in Mannaar alone, according to complaints sent to Mannaar Asst Director of Fisheries Department, B. Miranda.

If such acts continue for two more years, even the coastal families along fish-rich Peasaalai would have to look upon to Maldives to buy fish, a representative of fishermen in Peasaalai sarcastically told TamilNet.

Meanwhile, according to fishermen association of Maathakal, Jaffna, the encroaching Indian trawlers destroyed nets on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The Sri Lanka Navy was watching it silently and didn’t take any action.

The local fishermen in Jaffna, fishing close to Sri Lanka occupied ‘High Security Zone’, didn’t enter the seas due to fear caused by Indian trawlers.

Fishing by trawlers in the Palk Bay has been banned with effect from 1 Jan 2011, by Sri Lanka fisheries authorities in the north.

The Eezham Tamil fishermen nowadays do not own many trawlers. Even the very few Tamils in Mannaar owning trawlers were ordered by SL authorities to anchor their trawlers off Peasaalai and to engage in coastal fishing.

In such a background, the act of invasion by a fleet of Indian trawlers raises many questions among the Eezham Tamil fishermen.

In Jaffna, the long-suffering fishermen engage only in coastal fishing that too only in limited areas and in limited times set by the occupying military. They now worry whether they could fish even along that limited coast. Unemployment causes severe social problems in the Eezham Tamil coastal communities.

Having a long-term agenda, Colombo conspires against the food security of the country of Eezham Tamils by inducting the occupying military to cultivate lands in Vanni and by colonising the farmlands in the East. Starvation and making Eezham Tamils food-dependent are part of the multi-faceted genocide.

At a time when the wave of emotional support to the cause of Eezham Tamils turns heavily against establishments in New Delhi and Chennai, sinister motives are suspected behind the act of evoking animosity between strategically placed Tamil coastal communities on either side of the Palk Bay.

The Indian Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon and a former RAW official Dr. Chandrasekaran have recently said that the fastest growing Tamil Nadu having concerns for Tamils in the island is a matter of the past.

Meanwhile, Cairn India and its subsidiary Cairn Lanka will begin oil drilling in the Mannaar Basin in June 2011.


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