Northern fishermen to stage protest today against Indian poaching

By Maheesha Mudugamuwa

Thousands of fishermen in the Northern Province are scheduled to hold a protest today (12) in front of the Northern Provincial Council (NPC) demanding a permanent solution to poaching by their Indian counterparts.

President of the Fishermen’s Cooperatives in Mannar Mohommed Alam yesterday said fishermen in Mulaitivu, Mannar, Jaffna and Kilinochchi would urge the NPC to find a solution by discussing the matter with the government.

He told The Island that leaders of the fishing community in Northern

Province had no intention of holding discussions with Indian fishermen as the latter were using illegal fishing methods such as bottom trawling.

"We have already discussed with Indian fishermen on more than four occasions, but without success. There is no point in talking with them any more. We want them to stop poaching in Sri Lankan waters.

"We are objecting to not only the Indian fishermen coming into our territorial waters but also the use of illegal methods such as bottom trawling. This method is banned in Sri Lanka. They are therefore carrying out an internationally prohibited method of fishing within the Sri Lankan waters."

Referring to the Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s statement that he intended to solve the fishing issue by the end of this year, Alam said fishermen in Northern Province would not take part in any discussions unless the Indian fishermen stopped poaching forthwith.

Alam noted that earlier India had proposed that its fishermen ber permitted to engage in fishing in Sri Lankan waters 75 days of the year, but Sri Lankan fishermen would not accept it.

Meanwhile, it is reported that Tamilnadu fishermen’s associations has expressed their desire to continue discussions with their Sri Lankan counterparts and even consider giving up bottom trawling.

Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development Minister Mahinda Amaraweera, contacted for comment, said the government had not yet taken any decision regarding discussions between fishermen in Sri Lanka and India over the fishing issue.

He said Sri Lanka would not release boats seized from the Indian fishermen arrested for poaching in Sri Lankan waters despite continuous demands by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa.

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