Persisting pass control spoils Jaffna fisheries growth

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 22 April 2003, 14:45 GMT]
Sri Lanka army sentries on Jaffna’s Vadamaradchi coast are still insisting that fishermen in the region should possess the special identification passes it has issued them despite agreeing last February to accept identity cards issued by the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (MFAR) in Colombo, a spokesman for the region’s federation of fishermen’s societies told TamilNet Monday.

kallundaai_shore
Fenced off beach in Kallundai

Colombo promised to issue MFAR identity cards in Jaffna since last year following protests by fishermen in the northern peninsula against stringent restrictions imposed on fishing there - chief of which was the Draconian regulation that all of them (including families in some areas) should possess special permits to live and fish in coastal villages controlled by the Sri Lanka army and Navy.

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Identity card issued by SL Navy
All fishing villages held by the Sri Lankan armed forces in peninsula had areas specially designated in the Jaffna lagoon and the seacoast through which boats could set out to fish. In most places the beaches in these designated areas were fenced off with concertina and fortified with bunkers.

No fishermen in the peninsula could therefore moor or beach his boat, set out to sea, dry his nets, repair his outboard motor etc., without the special pass issued by the SLA and SLN.

No one could live or ply their trade in these villages without the special permits.

The pass system made the fishing population in Jaffna largely dependent on the Sri Lankan armed forces for its livelihood.


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Identity card issued by SL Navy
“This dependency has created chronic underdevelopment and poverty among Jaffna fishermen. We have so far seen no tangible effort to remove this system and put the peninsula’s fisheries industry on its pre-war footing”, Mr. P. Sooriyakumaran, secretary of the Federation of Fishermen’s Societies in Vadamaradchi, told Tamilnet Tuesday.

 

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