‘Only self-government can help safeguard NE fisheries’

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 28 April 2004, 16:42 GMT]
“Only when we have self-government will we be able to safeguard our fisheries resources and the lives of our fishermen,” said Dr. A. Soosai Ananthan, the Head of the Fisheries Department at the University of Jaffna, speaking at a seminar on the problems faced by fisheries workers, held at the Urumpirai Hindu College in Jaffna Sunday, the Jaffna-based Tamil language daily, Uthayan, reported Wednesday.

The Jaffna University academic said that fishing is second only to agriculture in the contribution to the economy of the North-East. Prior to 1983, the North-East was the region with the highest profits from fishing in Sri Lanka, with an annual catch of 48 metric tons. The region is home to prawns, crabs and shell fish that brought a large amount of foreign currency to the economy.

With the start of the war in 1983 and the introduction of the ban on fishing gear, High Security Zones, the security pass system, etc., and the displacement caused by war, the fisheries economy in the North-East went into nose-dive. Today the biggest problem is the poaching by Indian fishermen, according to Dr. Soosai Ananthan.

Nearly 3000 Indian trawlers are entering the North-East seas illegally and robbing the fisheries resources of the region, said the academic. Moreover, the use of heavy trawlers creates the danger of destroying undersea rocks, plants, etc., thus destroying the fisheries resources, he said.

“The intruding Indian fishermen in trawlers destroy large nets and other fishing gear used by local fishermen. During the ceasefire period, such aggression has been more pronounced," said Dr. Soosai Ananthan, adding, "the Sri Lanka Navy is adopting a soft stand against the Indian poachers for political reasons. This situation should be changed."

 

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