Fishermen in Jaffna held a hunger strike on 07 October, protesting against the military assistance provided to fishermen from the South who have come to the North, as well as a government ban on traditional fishing methods.
The protest, which was organised by the Valvettithurai East Fisheries Union, was addressed by NPC councillor Shivajilingam, who said “fishermen from South are using banned equipment and fishing with military monitoring in Kokkulai Nayaru regions.”
“Why do the Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources not question them, but bar us?” he asked.
“They (Southern fishermen) are fishing in regions that belong to the Tamil people, in Kokkulai and Nayaru,” Shivajilingham told the Tamil Guardian on Tuesday.
“Four hundred Sinhala families are staying here and fishing with military monitoring and protection. How can the Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources justify this?”
In the Jaffna peninsula, approximately 200 row boats are in use according to a census, said Shivajilingam, with 25 of those row boats in the Valvettithurai East region.
These boats were introduced in 1974 through a Norwegian and Chinese scheme, but in 2010 a Sri Lankan government gazette notification banned the use of these boats, he continued.
“This is a deceiving act to starve those fishermen’s families,” said Shivajilingam.
“Claiming that the sea’s resources are being destroyed, they are actually destroying the lives of innocent people.”
In response to the protest, NPC Fisheries minister B Deniswaran promised to provide arrangements for “alternate professions” to the fishermen, if they submitted their requests lawfully, the Uthayan reported.
Deniswaran went on to say that those that engage in rowboat fishing would have action taken against them by the Fisheries and Aquatic Resources department.