11/25/2010, 00.00
SRI LANKA
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Over one thousand people for the World Day of fisheries in Sri Lanka

by Melani Manel Perera
"Establishing a sustainable peace, building a national economy and ensuring the livelihoods of farmers, fishermen and labourers" was the theme of the meeting. Fishermen and families from 11 districts of the country, reiterate their desire to be able to produce foods to meet their needs, abolishing the importation of fish”.

 Trincomalee (AsiaNews) - The National Fisheries Solidarity Movement (nafso) celebrated the World Day of fishing in Trinciomale District, Eastern Province, last November 21. The theme of the day was "Establishing a sustainable peace, building a national economy and ensure the livelihoods of farmers, fishermen and labourers." Over a thousand people attended, including fishermen, their families, and groups of young people representing the 11 districts of the country: Jaffna, Mannar, Trinco, Ampara, Hambatota, Matara, Galle, Kallutara, Gampaha, Kurunegala, Polonnaruwa.

Susantha Punchinilame, Deputy Minister of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, said: "Even if our country is surrounded by the sea, fish unfortunately, is still imported from other countries," but he added that " now that the war is over, we can understand the importance of developing our fishing industry. I assure you that we will give every benefit fishermen across the nation. We liberated the country from war and you have achieved freedom today. You can go anywhere. But more efforts are needed to achieve the fishermen’s objectives. " The whole country is working to become "the wonder of Asia," said the deputy minister.

However T. Kamalaraajan, who attended the meeting representing the fishing communities in the district of Jaffna, said: "We do not enjoy any freedom, even 18 months after the end of the war. Who ever said that there is freedom in Sri Lanka? We live like prisoners, but in the open: prisoners usually live between four walls, this is the only difference. " He continues: "Give us the real freedom to earn a living without any problems."

Another fisherman, leader of the Fisher Loyal Peiris Puttalm District, said his community will respect all government development plans as long as they are not harmful to the lives and livelihoods of ordinary people. "We - he argued forcefully – will support any project that will protect our heritage and our lives. But they must be applicable to our country and our people, otherwise we will oppose them". The declaration recalls the recent protests of the fishing community of Negombo, which has long opposed the implementation of the government Sea Plane project. This initiative, currently halted, provides for the introduction of seaplanes to promote tourism in difficult to reach areas. With the result, however, of destroyingthe ecosystem of the lagoon, the only source of livelihood for the locals.

At the end of the day Herman Kumara, National Nafso Delegate and secretary general of the World Forum for Fisher People (WFFP), said: "We need to unite, as small producers, to produce our right to life and livelihood. We must live as citizens of the country, as voters who follow their own political interests. "

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