Indian fishermen demand access to Lankan waters

Indian fishermen demand access to Lankan waters

April 21, 2015   05:32 pm

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Over 100 fishermen from Tamil Nadu will meet External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj next Monday to give a petition demanding uninterrupted fishing rights in the Sri Lankan waters.

According to Rameswaram-based fisher leader S. Emarit, who represents owners of mechanised boats, leaders of fishermen’s associations across the State, the fishermen representing areas including Rameswaram, Nagapattinam, Karaikal, will participate in the meeting scheduled to be held in New Delhi on April 27.

“We plan to give a petition to the Minister demanding that Sri Lankan fishermen stay away from the sea on days we go fishing there,” he said.
Sri Lankan fishermen of the Tamil-majority Northern Province of the island have, for long, accused their Tamil Nadu counterparts of destroying their livelihoods by encroaching and using destructive bottom-trawling practices. The Sri Lankan Navy periodically arrests Indian fishermen on charges of engaging in illegal fishing methods. 

Tamil Nadu fishermen, however, argue that they fish in Sri Lankan waters as part of their “traditional rights”, a claim Sri Lankan fishermen – still trying to recover from the war that tore their region apart – have repeatedly called “unfair”.

In the recent round of talks between fishermen from both the countries, held in Chennai in March, the Indian fishermen said they could reduce the number of their fishing days from 90 to 83, even as they “attempt to phase out trawling”. The Sri Lankan delegation said it would respond after holding consultations with members of the fishing community.

“We are waiting to hear from our Sri Lankan brothers,” Mr. Emarit told The Hindu on Monday. (The Hindu)

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