Jaffna fishermen demand removal of restrictions

[TamilNet, Saturday, 22 October 2005, 15:50 GMT]
Representatives of Jaffna district fishermen unions, Sri Lanka Army (SLA) officers including Jaffna Military Commander Major General Sunil Tennekoon met at the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) office in Nallur Jaffna Saturday at 3 p.m. in an effort to resolve the hardships faced by Jaffna fishermen due to the pass system, lack of light house facilities and the restriction on fishing times, sources in Jaffna said.

Elilan meets Trinco SLA OfficersJaffna district Government Agent (GA), K Ganesh, Deputy Executive Director of Jaffna Fisheries Commission, K Tharmalingam, President of Consortium of Fisheries Union, Mr Thavaratnam, President of Vadamaradchy Fisheries Union, Mr K Sooriyakumaran, Sri Lanka military officials from 52-4 Brigade stationed in Vadamaradchy and 51-2 Brigade stationed in Gurunagar, and several officers of Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) participated in the discussions.

Military officials raised the issue of fishermen continuing to refuse the adoption of the "pass" system. Fishermen Union representatives said that currently the SLN has imposed a restriction that fishermen who go out to see for night fishing can only return to the shore after 5 a.m.

"This restriction forces the fishermen to stay in mid-sea for more than 10 hours if they go out at 7 p.m, and especially with the prevailing stormy conditions, threat of tsunami and the threat of heavy rains due to the NorthEast monsoon fishermen may be forced to return to shore on emergencies. SLN's restrictions have placed a tremendous burden on our fishermen who are eking out a living," the union officials said.

"Until these urgent needs of the fishermen are addressed and resolved the fishermen are not inclined to abide by the pass numbers and other restrictive procedures," the fishermen representatives told the security forces commanders.

Further, the fishermen union officials demanded that the Light Houses located in areas occupied by the SLA and SLN, in Kankesanthurai, Point Pedro, Kovalam area in Kayts and Karainagar should be reopened, refurbished and allowed to function for the benefit for the overnight fishermen.

The GA assured the attendees that he will organize another meeting to review matters related to Light Houses soon.

The fishemen also complained that the SLA checkpoint inspection delays of the fish sent to the South from Jaffna make large amount of catch unfit for consumption and that SLA should take remedial measures to assist the fishermen. Major Tennekoon agreed to consider establishing two special inspection points for dealing with such perishable products and that he will take this issue in a follow-up meeting.


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