The pass system for fishermen that was in practice for over two decades in the North, East and North Western provinces, restricting fishing activities was abolished last week. Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne told the Sunday Observer that this was a great relief and victory for the fishermen who had staged protests and agitations demanding the abolition of the Navy’s pass system. The system was introduced two decades ago to restrict and monitor the LTTE’s activities across the Palk Straits, he said.
Large-scale poaching by Indian fishermen, a hot topic of discussions between the two countries which had drawn repeated protests and agitations from the Northern fishermen, is also now under control with the Navy continuously patrolling the Northern and Eastern seas up to 10 nautical miles, the Minister said. Poaching has now dropped considerably, he said. Ten Indian fishing vessels poaching in the Northern seas have been seized by the Government and the crew is now in detention , he said. Heeding repeated appeals from fishermen’s unions and representatives Minister Senaratne took up the issue of the Navy pass system with Navy Commander Vice Admiral Jayanath Colombage and dispensed the system.
The District Fisheries Offices in the three provinces are now issuing identity cards to fishermen which will free them from all restrictions, including fishing hours and the nautical distance. Assistant Director of Fisheries, Mannar (C.U), B.S. Miranda told the Sunday Observer that they had already begun issuing fishermen’s identity cards and had also conducted a one-day house-by-house mobile service to assist the fishermen.
© 2013 The Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Ltd.