Lagoon fishing ban irks Thondamanar fishermen

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 02 March 2004, 17:36 GMT]
The Sri Lanka army agreed Tuesday to permit a limited number of fishermen to wade for prawns in the Thondamanar lagoon in Jaffna after fishermen’s organisations in the region threatened to launch a mass struggle. SLA prohibited fishermen from entering the Thondamanar lagoon from 26 February. More than 200 families in the villages of Thondamanar and Kerudavil in Jaffna’s Vadamaradchi Division depend on this lagoon for their livelihood during prawn season from mid February to April.

Representatives of the Thondamanar Fisheries Co-operative Society (FCS) and the Vadamaradchi North Federation of Fisheries Co-operative Societies Tuesday held discussions with the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission in Jaffna town, urging the truce monitors to intervene in the matter.

They told the SLMM they would launch a mass protest campaign if the SLA did not give them a positive reply in 48 hours.

“This is the only time of the year that we can make money to make ends meet for the rest of the year. We lose thousands of rupees in earnings for every day because the SLA has banned us from going to the lagoon," said a spokesman for the Thondamanar Fisheries FCS.

The EPDP was trying to make political capital out of our woes. We have reason to suspect that the ban is a drama staged by the military to help the EPDP gain votes. SLA imposes the ban and the EPDP is given a role in easing it for our sake.
Vadamaradchy Fisheries Federation Spokesperson

Discussions between representatives of the Thondamanar FCS and the commanding officer of the SLA’s 52-4 Brigade in Pt. Pedro on Monday to defuse tensions over the ban failed when the military officer said that the local fishermen had no alternative but to abide by the ban on entering the lagoon. Thondamanar fishermen refused to talk to the military when members of the EPDP tried to join the discussion.

“The EPDP was trying to make political capital out of our woes. We have reason to suspect that the ban is a drama staged by the military to help the EPDP gain votes. SLA imposes the ban and the EPDP is given a role in easing it for our sake," said a spokesman for the Vadamaradchi Fisheries Federation.

After Thondamanar fishermen rejected EPDP mediation and threatened to launch mass agitation, troops and Police personnel were massed along the shores of the lagoon to prevent anyone from fishing there.

Following negotiations between the military and the representatives of FCS at the 52-4 Brigade Tuesday afternoon mediated by SLMM, the SLA agreed to let forty fishermen per day to wade in the lagoon to catch prawns.

 

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