06/25/2012, 00.00
SRI LANKA

Sri Lanka: Fishermen of the north and south against the threat of Indian fishing vessels

Melani Manel Perera
Trawling destroys the ecosystem of the Indian ocean in the northern areas. But northern communities suffer from other problems: rudimentary equipment, prohibition of access to some of the bays, damage caused by civil war. The commitment of the Southern communities to help them.

Vavuniya (AsiaNews) - Damage to the marine ecosystem caused by Indian fishing vessels Indians, bays closed to fishing by the government for "security reasons", a ban on spear fishing: these are just some of the problems facing the fishing community in northern Sri Lanka. To try to resolve them, according to Fr. Sherad Jayawardene, a Catholic priest and head of the All Ceylon Small Scale Fisher People's Trade Union, "the communities of North and South must form a common front" and "work together". The occasion to discuss this situation was a meeting between a group of Catholic priests and fishermen of the south and 25 members of the Northern Province Fisher People's Alliance (ANPFP), held on 23 June in Vavuniya (Northern Province).

In Sri Lanka, the fishing communities of the north are the most disadvantaged. On the one hand, there are the Indian boats, which often go up to the limits of the Island's territorial waters and practice trawling, which is very damaging to the ecosystem and the fish. On the other hand, there is a technical problem: the fishermen of the south practice spearfishing, but those of the North are forbidden to use such equipment. This allows the former to catch a greater quantity of fish than the latter, and also risks exhausting the resources. Finally, the northern communities are still suffering from the damage provoked by almost 30 years of civil war, which has particularly affected the northern and eastern parts of the country.

Aruna Rosantha, president of the All Ceylon Small Scale Fisher People's Trade Union, stresses the need "to establish a representative body," defending "the positions of the fishermen of the North" before the authorities.

Herman Kumara, president of the National Fisheries Solidarity Movement (NAFSO), explains: "The issue of Indian fishing boats and all the difficulties faced by northern communities affect the peace and stability of the entire country. These people are paying for the destruction of years of conflict. Most of the work is up to us citizens in the South. Only we can commit ourselves to giving a decent life to these communities."

 

 

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