A group of 22 Sri Lankan Fishermen led by Suryakumar, Yazh District Fishermen Association, Lal De Silva, Assistant Director of Fisheries, Sri Lanka Government, Anthonimuthu, Adviser, Fisheries department, Sri Lanka and Sundan Yogarathnam, President, Meenavar Sangam, Sri Lanka, arrived at Mallipattinam on Wednesday and interacted with fishermen.

Anthonimuthu and Suryakumar later said the aim of their visit to Tamil Nadu was to have good relations with Indian fishermen and foster brotherhood among them. The visit was organised by Sri Lanka Government, they said. On their arrival from Kottaipattinam in Pudukottai district, the group was received by Tajudeen, secretary of the Tamil Nadu Meenavar Sangam.

Tajudeen told them that there were 3,000 fishermen in Mallipattinam. "We go for fishing to a distance of 24 nautical miles in the sea. We spend six hours to go. Prawn is the major catch in Mallipattinam area where the sea is calm. We are on a strike now demanding increase in diesel subsidy" Tajudeen said.

Both groups discussed about the livelihood issues. Anthonimuthu said the group would visit Nagapattinam and finally hold a conference at Chennai. Sri Lankan Fishermen said that Bay of Bengal should become a peaceful fishing area. There should not be any blood shed among fishermen.

Pudukottai

Representatives of fishermen of Sri Lanka in the second-leg of their tour of the state on Wednesday visited the coastal villages of Pudukottai district and held discussion with the fishermen of Jegadapattinam and Kottaipattinam.

They analysed various problems being faced by the fishermen of both countries and underlined the need for evolving a strategy for protecting the livelihood rights of the fishing community of both countries.

The damage caused to the marine wealth by the use of trawlers formed one of the key issues of discussions. The Sri Lankan fishermen team leader, K.Suriyakumar said the high-tech mechanisation in sea had been a problem to the entire marine wealth. A large number of fishermen in Sri Lanka bore the brunt of mechanisation by Indian fishermen, which has become a nuisance off-late.

Decades ago, fishermen of both Sri Lanka and India used conventional process in fishing.

The fishermen of Pudukottai district said that steps should be taken to protect the fishing rights of Indian fishermen.

The meeting aimed at protecting marine wealth also suggested setting up a ‘no-man-zone' in the sea waters, which neither the Sri Lankan nor Indian fishermen would venture into.

S.P.Anthonymuthu, Consultant – Communication/Media, said that a detailed discussion about the problems faced by the fishermen of both countries would be held in Chennai on Friday at the end of the tour of the state. The team would visit Nagapattinam on Thursday, he added.