N. J. Bose, president of the Rameswaram Mechanised Boat Fishermen Association, told The Sunday Leader that fishermen in southern India continued to protest last week over the Sri Lankan fishing issue and over 1,000 boats had not gone out to sea.
“The issue has still not been resolved.
Talks which were proposed to take place with fishermen in Sri Lanka have not happened. We are waiting for the Tamil Nadu government to do something about this as it is affecting hundreds of fishermen in the state,” he said. The “issue” Bose is talking about is Indian fishermen being arrested when they allegedly cross into Sri Lankan waters to catch fish.
V. Vivekanandan, an adviser to the South Indian Federation of Fishermen, who had in 2010 taken part in talks with Sri Lanka to resolve the fishing issue, told The Sunday Leader that Tamil Nadu politics is now beginning to override the actual situation. He also feels an ‘open seas’ solution may not work as Tamil Nadu fishermen have more sophisticated fishing equipment and bigger boats compared to fishermen in Jaffna, and so such a solution will favour Tamil Nadu fishermen.
Vivekanandan however noted that the situation is fairly serious as the dialogue had stalled and there was no progress on reaching an acceptable solution.
Vivekanandan said he felt the Sri Lankan government was taking “token action” when dealing with Indian fishermen who enter Sri Lankan waters as a result of its strong diplomatic ties with India. He added that the situation was very complex as Tamil Nadu politicians were making the fishing issue political. “As far as Tamil Nadu politics is concerned they cannot separate the fishermen issue and that can be dangerous. The actual problem is getting lost in the Tamil ethnic issue,” he said.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa and DMK President and former Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi issued statements on the fishermen issue in a bid to outdo each other. Vivekanandan admits that the Jaffna fishermen are those who suffer the most from this as it is their livelihood that will get affected when Indians take their fish. He said slowly but surely even most Indians are beginning to realise this and would like to see both sides benefit and not just one party. “The underlying solution will need to be one where there is equitable sharing of resources. It must be fair on both sides. It also must be a multi agreement solution and not one where one deal is signed and that’s it,” he said.
He also said that there was no progress on the proposed talks between fishermen from both countries, and the delay allowed Indian fishermen to continue to poach in Sri Lankan waters.
Indian fishermen had last month received an invite to visit Sri Lanka and hold talks with their Sri Lankan counterparts. They received a letter from a Sri Lankan official who acted as the translator of Minister Basil Rajapaksa when he had visited New Delhi last month. The meetings were to take place from August 1 to 7, but were called off as the Indians wanted the Tamil Nadu government to get involved and organize the tour – and that is yet to happen.
Source:The Sunday Leader