Bill to ban bottom trawling tabled

Fishing boatBan on mechanised bottom trawling in Sri Lankan waters, as proposed in a private member’s bill tabled in Sri Lankan Parliament, has been proposed, keeping in mind not just the problem posed by a section of fishermen of Tamil Nadu but also in view of the increasing trend among certain Sri Lankan fishermen.

Indicating this to The Hindu , the author of the bill, M. A Sumanthiran, Member of Parliament belonging to the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), says the “unsustainable method of fishing is unfortunately catching up with some fishermen here.”

In fact, Albert Justin Soysa, president of the Mannar District Fishermen’s Federation in the Northern Province, is more specific. He says that “those who indulge in trawling are questioning us, saying ‘When you can tolerate what the Tamil Nadu fishermen are doing, why don’t you allow us to do the same thing?’”

Last month, a delegation of the fishermen met President Maithripala Sirisena to discuss a host of issues, including that of the “growing trend,” Mr Soysa said, adding that TNA leader R. Sampanthan told the meeting that his party would take a “constructive step” to tackle this problem.

According to the TNA MP, the Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Act has to be amended as it permits the issue of licences for trawling operations. Besides, the Fishing (Import and Export) Regulations of 2010 impose a ban on trawling, but it is limited to exports.

Moreover, “who is going to declare the method of fishing at the time of export,” the MP asks. A term of imprisonment for two years and a fine of Rs. 50,000 have been mooted.

Noor Ahamed Alam, chief of the Mannar district fishermen cooperative societies, says the present regulation is not effective and the change in law is the need of hour.(Hindu)

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