Tamil Diplomat

Rameswaram fishermen abstain from fishing

Mechanised boat fishermen in Rameswaram have decided to abstain from fishing from Saturday, protesting the arrest and alleged attack of fishermen and confiscation of their boats by the Sri Lankan Navy.

Three days after the Sri Lankan Navy arrested 16 fishermen, including four from Thangachimadam in the island, leaders of 11 fishermen associations met in Rameswaram on Friday and decided to launch an indefinite strike from Saturday, a fishermen leader said.

The fishermen, who enjoyed the right to fish in the Palk Bay for several centuries, could no longer do so as the Sri Lankan Navy attacked them and destroyed their nets, he said. After arresting the fishermen with their boats on charges of poaching, the Sri Lankan authorities refused to return the boats while releasing the fishermen after days of incarceration.

The fishermen had lost 18 of 84 boats confiscated by the Sri Lankan Navy during the last fishing season. Those boats could not be salvaged as they were badly damaged due to months of neglect in Sri Lankan ports and the boat owners were yet to get any compensation.

After the new fishing season began in June, the Sri Lankan Navy had confiscated about 30 boats and they remained anchored on Sri Lankan shores, he said. The boat owners feared that the boats could not be salvaged as they were exposed to the vagaries of weather and faced the danger of getting damaged.

Chief Minister Jayalalithaa has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi several times, seeking intervention for securing the release of the fishermen and the boats, but the Centre maintained a stoic silence, he said.