By Chris Kamalendran
President Mahinda Rajapaksa has called for an immediate meeting of all stakeholders to formulate a common position on the issue of poaching in Sri Lankan waters by Indian fishermen.
As the first step, the President on Thursday directed Fisheries Minister Rajitha Senaratna to chair a meeting in Jaffna. The directive came after the President had sworn in Northern Provincial Council Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran for a number of portfolios he will hold.
Mr. Rajapaksa told Mr. Wigneswaran in the presence of the Fisheries Minister that he should also take part in the meeting. “Also make sure you invite Minister Douglas Devananda,” the President told Minister Senaratna. Fisheries Ministry officials said representatives of fishermen’s organisations and Grama Niladharis in the northern coastal fishing areas will be invited to the crisis conference.
The Sunday Times in its INSIGHT Report last month revealed exclusively how fishermen from Tamil Nadu were poaching in Sri Lankan waters in their thousand and were part of a multi-billion rupee export industry of the South Indian state government. Sri Lankan fishermen and the Sri Lanka Navy, which has been tasked to protect them in the northern waters, expressed concern over the rise in instances of poaching.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa wrote again to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh earlier in the week protesting over “attacks” on Tamil Nadu fishermen by the Sri Lanka Navy, but made no reference in the letter that these fishermen were illegally fishing in Sri Lankan waters. She was referring to the many arrests being made of Tamil Nadu fishermen and the boats belonging to big-time businessmen in the state being confiscated. More....