Feature Article

India failed to provide alternatives to trawler fishing in the Palk Bay

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 16 February 2011, 07:51 GMT]
Commenting on the fishermen issue in the Palk Bay, an Eezham Tamil social worker in Jaffna, long covering the crisis, told TamiNet that the Governments in New Delhi and Chennai have failed to take initiatives in providing alternatives to Tamil Nadu’s trawler fishing that had saturated the sustainability of fishing in the Palk Bay. It is not an issue between the fishermen of Tamil Nadu and Eezham alone, but a long existing crisis between the trawler fishermen and country-boat fishermen of Tamil Nadu itself, the activist said. The TN trawlers captured Tuesday in Jaffna, were staying on the sea for two days without getting any catch, before moving towards Jaffna.

If bottom-trawling fishing, carefree about sustainability, has destroyed the resources on the Tamil Nadu side, the establishments on that side are responsible to find alternatives, rather than allowing poaching into the waters of the subjugated and struggling nation of Eezham Tamils and triggering off a wedge between the folks on either side of the bay, the social worker in Jaffna said.

India could always provide alternatives for the trawler owners of Tamil Nadu in the waters of the Andaman Sea that has untapped resources. But New Delhi is perhaps afraid to give opportunities for Tamils in the waters of Andaman, the Jaffna social worker said, adding that the Tamil Nadu fishermen, especially from Naakappaddinam, should fight with New Delhi for their historical rights over maritime activities in the Bay of Bengal, without treading further on their devastated cousins on the other side of the Palk Bay.

When the country boat fishermen of Tamil Nadu were seriously affected by trawler fishing some decades ago, the then Chief Minister of Tami Nadu, Mr. M.G. Ramachandran undertook some measures to protect the weaker sections of fishermen and the older generation of them remember it with thanks even today.

The ongoing fishermen issue is a clear forewarning to the establishments in New Delhi and Colombo and to all the others who eye on the waters of the Palk Bay and the Gulf Mannaar that whether oil, tourism or strategic endeavours, sustainable agreements could be reached only when the sovereignty of Eezham Tamils on the waters is recognized and they are involved as a party, political observers commented.


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