Jaffna's fishing industry in peril
[TamilNet, Sunday, 02 March 2008, 10:55 GMT]
Fishing in Jaffna peninsula has suffered a near 95% plunge in the past twenty year period from 1983 due to ban and restrictions imposed on fishing by Sri Lanka Army (SLA), rendering most of the fishermen dependent on relief supplies to survive, Fishermen Society Federation sources in Jaffa said. SLA Commander Jaffna, Major General G. A. Chandrasiri, however, has ruled out lifting of fishing restrictions until security in seas surrounding the peninsula improves.
48,677 metric tonnes fish caught in 1983 had dropped to 2,963 metric tonnes in 2007, according to Department of Fisheries in Jaffna.
SLA permits only day time fishing in the seas surrounding the peninsula and that too only on manually operated boats or catamaran without outboard motors while limiting the distance from the shore for fishing.
Frequently, SLA adds new restrictions barring fishermen in the peninsula from entering the seas for several months, forcing the fisher families into severe economic hardship, fisheries sources said.
Representatives of civil organizations at the conference held by the Jaffna SLA commander 25 February afternoon in Palaali SLA High Security Zone (HSZ) had pointed out the hardships faced by fishing community in Kudaakkadal area comprising Kozhumpuththu’rai, Paasayoor and Kurunagar due to restrictions imposed by SLA.
The SLA commander had that until security in seas surrounding the peninsula improves, fishing restrictions in Jaffna will not be lifted.
The fishermen in Vadamaraadchi, Valikaamam and the islets of Jaffna too face the same restrictions and ban on fishing.
78,000 fishermen from 18,040 fisher families in the peninsula depend on fishing as their sole livelihood and of these 17,751 families are currently engaged in fishing while the rest depend on relief supplies for their living.
Following the Cease Fire Agreement (CFA) between the Government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam fishing in the peninsula witnessed a sudden surge, recording a catch of 15,157 metric tonnes in 2005 and 13,430 metric tonnes in 2006.
Clashes between LTTE and SLA and on 11 August 2006 again brought a sharp drop in catch which had pushed the peninsula fishermen and their families into a sorry plight.
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