By Chandani Kirinde
Both Government and Opposition legislators raised serious concerns about the intrusion into Sri Lanka’s territorial waters by Indian fishermen, as well as the harassment of local fishermen at the hands of Indian authorities, during a Parliamentary debate on Tuesday.
Industries and Small Enterprise Development Minister Douglas Devananda who began the debate on the Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (Amendment) Bill which aims to fulfill certain international obligations under conventions ratified by Sri Lanka, said that he represents the part of this country “where international norms and rules are blatantly violated by the intruding fishermen from our neighbouring country.”
“These intruders not only illegally enter our territorial waters but also use internationally banned fishing methods such as bottom trawling and mono-filament nets (thangus nets) destroying corals and sea plants including the continental shelf, and also disturbing by diverting the direction of the natural and free movements of marine organisms,” he said.
Minister Devananda added that this has drastically affected the livelihoods of the Northern fishermen and continues despite repeated attempts by him to resolve the issue through discussions. Democratic National Alliance (DNA) MP Sunil Handunnetti said that fishermen from other countries violate Sri Lanka’s maritime boundary and local fishermen are helpless to fight them
“Local fishermen, especially in the North and East, have been badly affected by the intrusion of Indian fishermen. Some of the northern fishermen tell us that when the LTTE was there, they were able to engage in fishing more freely,” he said.
Social Welfare Senior Minister Milroy Fernando who represents the Puttalam District, said that fishermen from Wennappuwa and Nattandiya areas have been arrested by the Indian authorities. “There must be clear demarcation of our maritime borders. You can place buoys and make that demarcation. We have to ensure that the livelihoods of our fishermen are safeguarded,” he said. More....