Trinco fishermen demonstrate to safeguard sea resource

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 06 August 2003, 19:52 GMT]
Hundreds of fishermen from the three main communities, Tamil, Sinhala and Muslim, in the Trincomalee town Wednesday held a demonstration against the use of dynamite and prohibited nets for fishing in the Trincomalee Sea. This was the first time since the ceasefire agreement was signed by the Government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam that Tamil members joined the Sinhalese and Muslim communities to hold a protest march for a common cause, senior citizens of the eastern port town said.

The demonstrators came in a procession from Veeranagar, a Trinco suburb, carrying placards and banners in Tamil and Sinhala languages side by side, appealing to Sri Lankan government authorities to safeguard the sea resources in Trincomalee from being destroyed by using dynamite and other prohibited fishing nets, sources said.

They alleged that migrant fishermen from other districts are now engaged in fishing by using prohibited nets and using dynamite for fishing from Pulmoddai to Kinniya in the Trincomalee district with the support of a section of the law enforcement authorities. If this practice is allowed to go on unchecked, the sea resources in Trincomalee would be destroyed, they pointed out.

"Whether we are Sinhalese, Tamils or Muslims, the sea resource is common to all, said demonstrator Mr.K.Seelaretna, a Sinhalese. Tamil fisherman Mr.K.Kuttithamby also expressed the same view, sources said.

Demonstrators arrived at the Trincomalee office of the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission and handed over a memorandum to its local head, Mr.Abdel Burkhan. Mr. Burkhan said the matter was not within the purview of the Memorandum of Understanding, but the SLMM would act a facilitator by making arrangement for the parties concerned to meet at its office.

Mr. Burkhan added that the SLMM would not take any responsibility for implementing any decision agreed upon by the parties concerned at the discussion. "We will promote dialogue between parties to solve their problems," Mr. Burkhan said.

Thereafter demonstrators sat in front of the SLMM office, saying they would stay there till such a discussion between law enforcement authorities and the representatives of the demonstrators was concluded, sources said.

Around twelve noon representatives of the Sri Lanka Army, Sri Lanka Navy and Police arrived at the SLMM office to meet a nine-member delegation of fisheries associations, which comprised Tamils, Sinhalese and Muslims, and the discussion took place in the presence of SLMM monitors, sources said.

At the discussion Trincomalee Senior Superintendent of Police, Mr. Upali Hewage, said that instead of going to the SLMM, which has no authority to deal with the question of stopping dynamiting and using prohibited nets under the MoU, representatives of fishermen associations should have approached the proper authorities in this regard.

However, he assured the members of fisheries delegation that he would take appropriate steps against persons using prohibited fishing nets and dynamite for fishing after meeting fisheries department officials and getting their recommendation in this regard, sources said.



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Demonstrators on their way to the SLMM's Trincomalee office seen at the Clock Tower junction near the fish market. SLA's heavy vehicle is providing escort.




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Demonstrators are seen at Clock Tower junction in the heart of Trincomalee town




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Demonstrators sit in protest in front of the SLMM office in Trincomalee. SLMM monitor Hurt Spur and police officials are seen in front of demonstrators carrying placards and banners

 

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