Thurairasa Ravikaran, a former member of the Northern Provincial Council, expressed his frustration over the perceived inaction of the Sri Lankan Fisheries Ministry and the Sri Lankan navy regarding the reported incidents of incursions into Mullaitivu waters by Tamil Nadu fishermen.
“Are they asleep?” Ravikaran asked, referring to the fisheries ministry and other authorities.
Tamil fishermen from across the Palk Strait have been entering waters close to the North-East several times recently, provoking anger amongst Eelam Tamil politicians. Some also allege that Tamil Nadu fishermen cause damage to fishing equipment belonging to their Eelam Tamil counterparts.
The incursions have been taking place despite the heavy presence of the Sri Lankan navy in the Palk Strait, which has frequently attacked and even shot at the fishermen from Tamil Nadu. In previous years, prior to the Sri Lankan military occupation, fishermen from both sides of the strait had a co-operative relationship but that has significantly deteriorated.
Ravikaran met some Mullaitivu fishermen on Tuesday whose fishing nets worths hundreds of thousands of rupees were reportedly destroyed by Tamil Nadu fishermen.
Speaking to the press after the meeting, Ravikaran said that the livelihood of Mullaitivu fisherfolk are threatened by several factors. He noted the role of fishermen from Southern Sri Lanka who he said use purse seine nets and other equipment banned by the government in Mullaitivu waters. “Further to this,” he said, “Indian fishermen and their tug-boats are also causing a threat to Mullaitivu fishermen.”
He pointed out that on the 10th, 11th and 12th of October, the activities of Tamil Nadu fishermen were particularly harmful to Eelam Tamils. Ravikaran also questioned the perceived inaction of the Fisheries Ministry and other authorities “who are supposed to prevent this from happening.”
“The Minister of Fisheries, the Sri Lanka Navy and the Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources are carrying out activities that are detrimental to the livelihood of the fishermen of Mullaitivu District who are also citizens of Sri Lanka,” he stressed.
Ravikaran noted that TNA MP M.A. Sumanthiran had already introduced a bill in parliament in an attempt to curb the intrusions of Tamil Nadu fishermen. And he said no action has been initiated regarding the bill by the government.
“We must ensure the livelihood of our fishing population. Therefore, Indian trawlers should be prevented from entering Sri Lankan waters,” Ravikaran said.