Fishermen leaders appeal to new Sri Lankan President

Extending their warm greetings to the newly elected Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, leaders of Mechanised boat fishermen associations appealed to him to protect the interest of Rameswaram fishermen and pave way for a negotiated settlement after reviving the Joint Working Group (JWG).

Pinning hopes on Mr. Rajapaksa, fishermen leader P. Sesu Raja urged him to take up their issue with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“We hope Mr. Rajapaksa would take sincere efforts to find a lasting solution to the fishermen issue and protect our livelihood,” he said.

Pointing that the livelihood of the fishermen had been jeopardised for several years, he said the fishermen fully depend on fishing in the Palk Bay for their livelihood but had been fishing in ‘troubled waters’ after the Lankan navy stepped up the offensive against them, arresting fishermen and confiscating their boats.

When the Lankan navy confiscated trawlers, the boat owners deprived of their livelihood and the family members were literally driven to the streets to look for alternative livelihood, he said. Overnight, the trawler owners became fish workers and struggled to make both ends meet, he said.

Stating that more than 100 trawlers could not be salvaged despite former Lankan President Maithirpala Sirisena ordering the release as they had suffered extensive damage and became sea unworthy, he appealed to the Lankan and Indian governments to work out a scheme to compensate the affected families.

The two governments should also work out an agreement for peaceful fishing in the Palk Bay till the fishermen fully switched over to deep sea fishing. He was confident the fishermen would end bottom trawling in the Palk Bay in three or four years, he said and urged Mr Rajapaksa to direct the navy to desist from arresting fishermen and confiscating their boats.

Other leaders, including N.J. Bose and Emirat, said it as unfortunate the JWG formed to work out means for peaceful fishing had virtually become defunct now. The two governments should revive the JWG and help fishermen of the two countries to sit across the table and sort of the issues.

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Printable version | Feb 29, 2020 6:56:49 PM |

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