No release of boats: SL Minister

The Sri Lankan Fisheries Minister, Dr Rajitha Senaratne, said that there is no possibility of releasing the detained boats of Tamil Nadu fishermen even as 94 fishermen were repatriated to India on Saturday.

“I don’t think it is possible to release the boats,” Senaratne told Indian Express when asked about the fate of the 63 boats in detention in Jaffna and Mannar since June.

The Sri Lankan view is that the detention of boats will deter Tamil Nadu and Puducherry fishermen from poaching in Lankan waters.

Officials from the governments of India, Sri Lanka and Tamil Nadu are to meet in New Delhi on August 29 to discuss sustainable methods of fishing in the waters between Sri Lanka and India.

Meanwhile, fishermen from Ramanathapuram, Rameswaram, Pudukkottai, Thanjavur, Nagapattinam and Karaikal coastlines met at Chennai on Saturday to discuss the Indo-Lankan fishermen’s issue under the auspices of the Tamil Nadu unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party.

The leader of the ‘Alliance for the Release of Innocent Fishermen,’ Arulanandam, told Express over phone that the fishermen’s representatives want the BJP government to find a “permanent solution” to the problem through talks with the Lankan authorities.

Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa had also called for a permanent solution.

“We are tired of watching the recurring ritual of our fishermen getting arrested and then being released without their boats. Governments must realise that it is not only a question of the livelihood of the fishermen but their self-respect too,” Arulanandam said.

Asked what, in his view, is a permanent solution, he said that the Tamil Nadu and Puducherry fishermen should be allowed to fish unhindered for a given number of days, “say two or three days in a week.”

On the scheme to encourage fishermen to go for deep sea fishing and avoid the Palk Strait and Palk Bay, he said that “some will opt for it.” However, he felt that allowing a combination of coastal and deep sea fishing will be the most realistic and prudent thing to do.

Arulanandam complained that the boats detained by Lankan are going to seed because of non-use for a long time. Initially the Lankan navy used to keep the engines going for sometime everyday. But they have stopped, making the boats unusable, he said.

Arulanandam is against the politicization of the fishermen’s issue. “A genuine fishermen will not want politicization. Those who launch agitations, issue statements and give TV interviews are actually not from the fishing community as such,” he claimed. (Indian Express)

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