Rameswaram fishermen, who faced the wrath of the Sri Lankan Navy while fishing have urged the central and state governments to create a conducive atmosphere for fishing after arranging a meeting between the Lankan and Indian fishermen during the 45 day ban period, which comes into effect from Monday.
As fishing activities came to a grinding halt following the ban on fishing till May 29 to conserve the marine fishery wealth during the fish breeding season, the Rameswaram fishermen are in dilemma on resuming fishing after the ban period as they fear continued trouble from the Lankan Navy.
The fishermen have been facing the problem for the last three decades and making use of the break period, the two governments should arrange for a meeting between fishermen of the two countries, the Navy and officials to find a lasting solution or provide other alternatives to the fishermen to eke out their livelihood in a protected environment, Mr. P.Sesu Raja, District Secretary, Tamil Nadu Coastal Mechanised boat fishermen Association has said.
About 3,000 mechanised boats, including 800 in Rameswaram would remain anchored for the next 45 days during the ban. The state government provides a monthly assistance of Rs 2,000 each to the about 40,000 fishermen families in the district.
“Normally we will take up repair and painting works during the ban period, but this time, we are in a dilemma as we are not sure of resuming fishing after the ban period in view of frequent and increased attacks and detentions by the Lankan Navy,” Mr Raja said talking to The Hindu.
Pointing out that the Rameswaram fishing jetty was overcrowded with more than 800 mechanised boats, he suggested that the government in the event of failing to prevail upon the Lankan government and finding a solution, should come forward to buy the boats of fishermen under the buyback policy.
Around 300 fishermen are ready to sell their boats and give up fishing, provided the State government gives them adequate compensation on the line of providing benefits to retired government employees to take up alternative livelihood, he said.
The Government and the district administration could also decongest the Rameswaram fishing jetty, by building a fishing harbour at Naalumunai in Thangachimadam for the benefit of local fishermen. At least 500 boats could be shifted to this harbour from Rameswaram, he said.