Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena is expected to ask Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to stop Indian trawlers from entering Lankan waters when he meets the latter in New Delhi on February 16.
The Lankan line on the fishing issue was discussed at a high level meeting held here on Thursday, in which the participants were President Sirisena, Northern Province Chief Minister C.V.Wigneswaran, Northern Province Governor HMGS Palihakkara, Eastern Province Governor and Austin Fernando, Deputy Minister of Defense Ruwan Wijewardene, the Navy Commander and B.Deniswaran, Northern Provincial Minister of Fisheries.
Deniswaran told the media that Sirisena will point out that trawlers from Tamil Nadu and Puduchery have been denuding the Palk Strait and Palk Bay of aquatic resources and denying North Lankan Tamil fishermen their livelihood. They should therefore be banned from coming here.
Wigneswaran said that India should take steps to ban trawling in the shallow sea between the two countries and encourage its fishermen to take to deep sea fishing in the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea.
On the persistent Indian suggestion that Indian boats be “licensed” to fish in Lankan waters with a view to regulating them, the Northern Province’s view was that no intrusion, whether licensed or not, should be allowed.
On Releasing Boats
North Lankan fishermen have not taken kindly to the release of 87 detained Indian boats.
“It is only a political drama to improve ties between Lanka and India. It will not solve our problem, which arises from massive poaching and trawling. Before releasing the boats, the intruders should have been warned that if they came again, their boats would be seized and not returned,” said Rajachandran, President, Karainagar Ambal Fishermen's Co-Op Society.
“We should release the poor fishermen on board, but detain the boats. After all, TN trawlers are owned by big capitalists. They need not be let off the hook,” argued Subramaniam, President, Madakal West Grameeya Fishermen's Society.
Politics of the Issue
This is the first time the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) is taking up the issue of Northern Tamil fishermen vis-à-vis Indian intruders. So far, only the Eelam Peoples’ Democratic Party (EPDP) led by Douglas Devananda has been voicing their concerns. The TNA has been wary of taking up the issue so as not to alienate India and Tamil Nadu.
But with Lankan parliamentary elections due in June, the TNA feels the need to expand its base. While it took up the issue of “genocide” to take the wind out of the sails of the radical Tamils, it has taken the issue of fishermen to take the wind out of the sails of the EPDP.
The Sirisena government is going along with the TNA on the fishermen’s issue to cement its new-found ties with it, ahead of the parliamentary elections. (New Indian Express)
One important issue which also needs to be addressed is the construction of the land link bridge between India and Sri Lanka formally proposed by Ranil. This is a project which will find support with the BJP government because they like to preserve Ram Sethu which is a Hindu religious symbol and abandon the Sethu Samudram Project.
Ralahamy Saturday, 14 February 2015 08:45 AM
The reason for the Indian invasion of Sri Lankan waters is not only fishing. It is for smuggling of drugs. This has been going on for decades. It is for this reason that Sri Lanka had the TAFII (Task Force against Illicit Immigrants) several decades ago. Stop these boats, and part of the drug and Ganja menace will be reduced.
LOL Saturday, 14 February 2015 07:51 PM
Why are some countries more equal than others ? When Sri Lanka vessels violated maritime boundaries the EU warned and subsequently stopped SL exporting fish to the EU, however Indian vessels have consistently violated SL waters over many years and India is not given any warning, or ban ???
Aba Jayasekera Saturday, 14 February 2015 12:14 AM
It is true that the trawlers are owned by rich capitalists and these trawlers if they poach in our waters must be confiscated after giving the Indian Government adequate notice. However, it is the so-called “poor fishermen” who actually poach and they must be imprisoned for a minimum period say one year before being released.
Senator Tuesday, 17 February 2015 02:29 PM
Better no have any land links with India.
Arunasalam Friday, 13 February 2015 08:16 PM
The position taken by the Sri Lakan side is correct.
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