By P. Krishnaswamy
Northern fishermen’s unions have welcomed their South Indian counterparts’ decision to impose a Rs. 100,000 fine on any of their members violating the fishing territory and entering Sri Lanka’s fishing grounds for poaching. The decision is a significant move to end the decades-long poaching issue that remained unresolved despite repeated discussions between the two governments and fishermen’s representatives.
The Indian Centre and the State government should help implement the decision to ensure sustainability of the fisheries industry and mutual goodwill between the fishing communities, they said. The leaders of fishermen’s associations in Jaffna and Mannar told the Sunday Observer that the decision of their South Indian counterparts to impose a total ban on poaching and penalise those who violate it was a welcome decision to stabilise the fisheries industry across the Palk Bay that has been facing the threat of annihilation due to the decades-long poaching and the destructive fishing methods adopted by the poachers. They hailed the decision as ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ adding that if implemented properly, it would ensure sustainability of the industry and livelihood of the fishers.
President, Union of Mannar District Fishermen’s Cooperative Societies N.M. Alam who has 32 Cooperative Societies in its membership said that all their members had expressed hope that the decision, if implemented properly, would pave the way for the debilitating industry to thrive again.
President, Union of Northern Fishermen’s Cooperative Societies S. Thavaratnam which has over 120 fishermen’s Cooperative Societies in its membership said that the Central and State government should provide alternative arrangements to the fishermen so that the poaching issue and all other problems would end.