Feature Article

Fisheries federation in Jaffna demands direct talks with SL President, FM and Fisheries Minister

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 03 May 2017, 21:11 GMT]
On the occasion of International Day of Vesak, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to visit the island. The SL Fisheries Ministry that suppresses Eezham Tamils, particularly between Kokku'laay and Thiriyaay along the northeastern coast, is trying to release the trawlers that have been seized from the intruding Indian fishermen. Tamil fisheries societies in the North have come under pressure from Colombo to collaborate with Colombo and New Delhi to the move by the SL State. V. Subramaniam, who represents the federation of fisheries societies in Jaffna told TamilNet that their federation has demanded a direct meeting with SL President Maitiripala Sirisena, SL Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera and SL Fisheries Minister Mahinda Amarasinghe on the burning issue of intruding trawlers from India and the Sinhala South into the territorial waters of Tamil-speaking people.

The Fisheries Ministry, which is backing Sinhala intrusion of the coast of Tamil-speaking people, has been dealing with New Delhi on resolving the issue of intruding trawlers that engage in bottom-trawling, which destroys the fishing ecosystem as well as destroying the fishing nets of Tamil-speaking fishermen from Mannaar to Vadamaraadchi East in Jaffna.

There have been several talks. But, Colombo and New Delhi are only interested in using the issue for their State-centric interests.

“We have always been voicing our support to the release of fishermen who are being detained by the SL Navy. But, we are opposed to any move in releasing the trawlers back without a permanent solution is achieved to the problem,” Mr Subramaniam told TamilNet.

“These trawlers belong to traders in South India who have political connections. Each of them own more than 10 trawlers and exploit the poverty-stricken fishermen from Tamil Nadu to operate their boats,” he said.

There are 143 trawlers, which are now under the custody of SL Navy at Kaarai-nakar. The representatives of Indian trawler operators are also being allowed to inspect the trawlers periodically.

During the regime of Rajapaksa, a large number of such boats were illegally taken to South and handed over to Sinhala operators, who deployed the trawlers in the seas off Jaffna, Mullaiththeevu and Mannaar. Intruding Sinhala fishermen were deployed in these boats by the Sinhala operators from South.

But, now the trawlers are kept in the custody of SL Navy at Kaarai-nakar in Jaffna according to court orders.

Now, SL Fisheries Ministry and SL Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera, who want to strike deals with New Delhi, are exerting pressure on Tamil fishermen to support at least the release of 20 trawlers as symbolic gesture on the occasion of Narendra Modi visiting the island on Vesak day.

Northern Provincial Council has been completely side-lined by Colombo's Fisheries Ministry in dealing with the affairs affecting the fisher folks in North. ITAK Parilamentarian M.A. Sumanthiran is being deployed by Colombo to deal with New Delhi on the issues affecting the fisher folks in North.

Mr Sumanthiran has gone to the extent of defending why ITAK leadership was not urging New Delhi to exert external pressure on Colombo to resolve the ethnic conflict, naming ITAK collaboration with SL regime as ‘TNA optics’.

Following video clip is from the talk delivered by Mr Sumanthiran at a meeting organised by Bar Association on 11 February in Jaffna.

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