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People, Power and Politics for Sustainable Livelihoods and Sustain Life - Sri Lankan Fisher communities commemorated World Fisheries Day

Written By NAFSO on Monday, November 23, 2015 | 8:55:00 PM

National Fisheries Solidarity Movement commemorated world fisheries day for consecutive 19th time with unexpected level of participants in Jaffna. NAFSO started to commemorate a day for fisheries sector even before it recognised by the world, when it proposed by World Forum of Fisher People (WFFP) 1997 in New Delhi, India.

Fisher communities throughout the world are being cornered though they are doing a irreplaceable role in concern with food security and food sovereignty almost every country of the world.              Aquatic resources are among the main focus of global resource hunters. fisher communities around the world are finding themselves in pressure of depleting fisheries resources and coastal resources.

To establish unity among fisheries communities is one of the most important factor for the safe guard of aquatic resources. commemoration of WFD is the main event in each year to gather, show unity and voice out their issues of the sector with demands to protect the resources and secure the rights of fisher communities.

NAFSO planned to conduct WFD in Jaffna district for the first time in WFD history, with 500 participants from 12 districts, but around 700 people were participated to the event with the majority from Jaffna district even they are facing turbulent climate situation with floods. Jaffna District Fisheries Solidarity act as the host organisation.

TNA Ex. MP Mr. Gajendra Ponnambalam, Indian Deputy high commissioner to Jaffna Mr. A. Nadaraja and Northern Province fisheries minister Mr. B.Dineshwaran were also participated to the event.

 Indian trawlers issue considered as the biggest threat to fisheries resources in Northern waters of the Sri Lanka while destructive fishing gears used by migratory fishers from other areas of the country play a vital role in depletion of resources. both issues were voiced out by the fishers and Indian Deputy high commissioner to Jaffna give his speech based on trawling issue. Fisherwomen and farming sector also presented their issues.

    Dharmalingam Jayachithra from Jaffna district fisheries Solidarity given the welcome speech.

Chief Guest  Mr. Balasubraemaniyam Dineshwaran

Chief Guest Mr. B.Dineshwaran, Indian Deputy High commissioner  and NAFSO Convenor Mr. Hrman Kumara

Part of the 700 participants from 12 District.
Singhala and Tamil translation (Done by the Nationa Fisheries Solidarity Movement)  of the Voluntary Guideline for the Sustainable Small Scale Fisheries book were handed over to the Fisher communities (VGSSF by FAO)

Hand Book (Singhala Language) of the VGSSF Guidelines were launched during the Event and handed over to the guests and people.

A petition against innovation of SL waters by Indian trawlers were handed over to the Indian Deputy high commissioner to Jaffna Mr. A. Nadaraja and to Fisheries Minister of Northern Province Mr. Dineshwaran by Mr. A.A. Alam, Chair person of the Northern Fisher People Alliance

A drama on Indian Trawling issue was staged by the Mannar District Fisher people.

Professor Susei Anandan (Upper Pic) and Ex. parliamentarian Gajendra Ponnambalam were among the guests

A report of a research conducted by the NAFSO on IDPs of Jaffna was handed over to the guests and People participated to the event (inTamil and Singhala languages)

Fisher leaders who were dedicatedly work for the win and establish human rights, and sustainable fisheries in Sri Lanka were admired with special awards.

 Convenor Of the NAFSO movement addressing the audience

World Fisheries Day on November 21st 2015

Written By NAFSO on Thursday, November 12, 2015 | 11:55:00 PM

The World Fisheries Day Will be commemorated under the theme of "Peoples Power for Sustainable Life and Livelihoods"  in Jaffna on 21st of November with the fishers, Farmers and Women from 14 districts.
This is 19th WFD commemoration in SriLanka organised by National Fisheries Solidarity movement.  

Life and Tamil despair in Sri Lanka’s refugee camps

by Melani Manel Perera
Some 30,000 people remain internally displaced in northern Sri Lanka. Some 38 refugee camps accommodate 1,536 families. A displaced Tamil talks ​​about life in the Neethavan camp, on the Jaffna Peninsula. Each shelter is home to 2-3 families, or 10-15 people, without electricity and poor sanitation. Security remains a problem. Video shows conditions in the Konatpulam Tamil refugee camp.

Colombo (AsiaNews) – “If we do not get our land back by the end of the year, we will go to a famous place and set ourselves on fire. One person from each of Sri Lanka’s 38 Tamil refugee camps will do this. Those who burn to death might not go back home, but their families will,” said Vijaya Raajaa, a young Tamil refugee ​​living in the Neethavan refugee camp near Jaffna, northern Sri Lanka, home to scores of people who fled their lands during the country’s civil war.

The young man has had it. “Enough is enough. We can’t take it anymore. Some of us have lost our parents; others lost wives, husbands, and children. Some have disappeared. As if that was not enough, our land is still occupied by Colombo’s army. Is there any justice in all of that?”

The Tamil refugee’s protest comes a few weeks after another group of refugees threatened massive actions should the authorities fail to listen to their demands. Also recently, the National Fisheries Solidarity Movement (NAFSO) released a study about the current conditions of the Tamil population. It shows that some 1,536 families, or 5,836 people, live in 38 refugee camps.
The study also shows that the Jaffna Peninsula is home to 30,000 Internally Displaced Peoples (IDPs). It found that 2-3 families, or 10-15 people, live per shelter. About 55 per cent of the shelters lack electrical power. Inadequate sanitary facilities have to be shared. Without electrical power in the camps, security is an issue. No one dares go outside at night.
The Neethavan camp is about six kilometres from Jaffna and has been in operation since 1990. At present, it holds 58 families: 111 men, 116 women (15 of whom are head of the household), and 65 minors. Most families are Hindu; seven are Christian.
video showing the conditions in which people live was shot in another camp, that of Konatpulam, illustrating the hardships Tamils have to endure.
Vijaya said that his father disappeared in 1995, when he was 11 years old. His mother was left alone to raise him and his two siblings. Now he has to care for his mother, wife and two kids.
“This is 151st time I tell my story of suffering and sadness,” he said bitterly. “We do not want anyone’s help, not even the government. So many have come to listen to us, but no one has done anything. We do not want assistance aid anymore. All we want is to get out of the camps and go back to our villages."
The refugee said that Tamils ​​do not believe the "promises made by the government and [aid] organisations. Everybody comes here; they give us food, and then they leave. I hope someone puts poison in the rice they give us; at least we’ll die without realising it. We can’t go on like this."
Now monsoon rains are expected at the end of the month. Every year, they cause a lot of damage.
"We got some tents from one organisation but they are broken and must be repaired. They gave us six nails for seven tents. We have to buy the others, but we don’t have the money."
“Everyone living in a camp should be resettled immediately,” he insisted. “Otherwise we will do what we said we would do.”

Asia News

When fishermen get NETTED

Written By NAFSO on Wednesday, October 21, 2015 | 1:53:00 PM

  • By  Arthur Wamanan and Sahla Ilham
  • Saturday, 21 March 2015
  • The recent visit of Indian Premier Narendra Modi to Sri Lanka was looked at as a positive sign in terms of several key issues pertaining to both countries. India and Sri Lanka, while having maintained friendship for generations, have had their issues. Occasional clashes between fishermen of both countries have been a nagging pain for both States.  This has now become part of a political issue that needs to be addressed.

    Tamil Nadu has been in the forefront of voicing support for Tamils in Sri Lanka’s Northern Province during and after the war. However, Northern fishermen claim that they are in fact affected due to the encroachment of Indian fishermen into Sri Lankan waters.
    “They use fishing nets and boats that are banned. They encroach into our seas since they had destroyed all their resources,” said Jaffna  District Fisheries Federation Secretary K. Rajachandran.

    The allegation leveled is that Indian fishermen use bottom trawling which destroys the sea bed and its natural resources. Bottom trawling, also referred to as benthic trawling, is considered an IUU (Illegal, Unregulated, Unreported) fishing practice, banned by the Indian Ocean Tuna Committee (IOTC) and the European Union (EU).

    As a result, the Northern fishermen are facing a major livelihood issue. The  encroachment by Indian fishermen, the fishermen in the north have to now compete for fishing space with the much larger fishing vessels used by Indians.

    Rajachandran states that at least 30,000 fishing families in the Northern coastal belt have been affected by this prolonged issue.

    It is well known that the Indian Sri Lankan fishermen problem has continued for decades now. Over the course of 30 years, more than 530 fishermen have been killed in the waters between India and Sri Lanka.

    The recent visits of the Heads of States to both countries were expected to have a soothing effect on the issue. The Government, as a goodwill gesture, released 86 Indian fishermen in line with the visit by Modi who arrived in the country on March 13.

    However, Rajachandran claims that the encroachment continues despite the developments. In addition, the statement made by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe that those who violate the maritime border would be shot has also sent mixed signals to India.

    Bottom trawling
    Fisheries Department Deputy Director Lal De Silva said the method of trawling uses large nets tied to the end of boats. These nets which are dragged in the bottom of the seabed destroy corals, small fish and fish eggs.

    He further said that this process often leaves the sea bed in a deserted state. He further commented saying that especially due to the destruction of fish eggs, it gives small fish a lesser chance to repopulate, and this has a negative impact on the people as fisherman will have smaller harvesting later on. Genetic and ecological diversity are equally affected. Sri Lanka is a tropical country. With its higher biodiversity it stands to lose more because of such destructive methods of fishing than would a none-equatorial country.

    More than 30 percent of the catch made by Indian poachers in Sri Lankan waters is dumped back into the sea as waste fish, because it is not commercially viable. In fact for every kilo of fish there is 20 kilos waste fish.

    Proprietor, Ocean’s Harvest Fishing Company, Rahul Ariyasinha told The Nation that the issue of illegal fishing practiced by Indian fishermen in Sri Lankan waters is a major concern both economically as well as environmentally and has had extensive economic repercussions for the northern fishermen who comprise of almost 20 percent of the population in the north. Over 3,000 large trawlers operate in the Palk Strait, Palk Bay and Gulf of Mannar.

    He stated that Indian fishermen tend to encroach in big groups that number into the hundreds and as a result the fishermen in the north have had to limit their fishing operations to a very short distance from shore which minimizes their chances of finding fish.

    “There have been many incidences where the fishing gear of our fishermen have been damaged as a result of being entangled with the bottom trawl nets of the Indians or has been intentionally destroyed,” he added.

    Continental shelves
    Ariyasinha also explained the importance of continental shelves which serves as feeding grounds to sea creatures. “Though Sri Lanka has a narrow continental shelf, the north and the north western banks of Sri Lanka have a highly productive and broad continental shelf that continues with the Indian continental shelf,” he said.

    He alleged that the Indian fishermen who encroach target the rich continental shelf using the bottom trawling method which is one of the most destructive methods used to catch fish.

    He stated that as a result of the small mesh used in these nets it does not allow other sea creatures to escape resulting in many other fish, turtles and marine mammals to be captured and discarded. Accordingly, many of these discarded fish are juvenile and valuable species for other fishermen. “The unsustainable over fishing practiced by the encroaching Indian fishermen is a direct threat to fishing communities not only in the North and North West, but of the entire country,” he added.

    He further stated that both countries needed to come to a compromise on the issue that would allow Tamil Nadu fishermen to operate in our waters of North and NorthWest for an agreed number of days a month, provided that they completely stop the use of bottom trawling and instead use a more environmentally sustainable method of fishing when fishing in our waters.

    Indian fishermen walk after being freed by a local Sri Lankan court at Katchchativu in Jaffna District on March 17, 2014. 
    Ishara S. KODIKARA)
    Source: The Nation

    Poster Campaign in Kaluthara

    Written By NAFSO on Monday, October 19, 2015 | 5:14:00 PM

    A poster campaign regarding cross border issues was carried out on 15th  Oct. in Kaluthara district with the help of galle district partner of Fisheries Solidarity. 
    At the same time a 2 leaflet was destructed  among people on the issue and regarding the food sovereignty.
    Kaluthara District Fisheris Solidarity organized the campaign. 

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