Tuna Longliner cum Gill Netter scheme can end fishermen’s arrest
The state government scheme for fishermen to purchase Tuna Longliner cum Gill Netter at an estimated outlay of Rs.51.30 crores is expected to change the fishing method of Rameswaram fishermen and thus end their arrest by the Sri Lankan Navy, according to informed sources.
The state government scheme for fishermen to purchase Tuna Longliner cum Gill Netter at an estimated outlay of Rs.51.30 crores is expected to change the fishing method of Rameswaram fishermen and thus end their arrest by the Sri Lankan Navy, according to informed sources. Tuna longliners are modern fishing trawlers capable of staying at sear for 45 days with facilities to freeze the catch. Gill netting is a common fishing method where a fish swims into a net and passes only partly through the mesh. As it struggles to free itself, the twine slips behind the gill and prevents escape.
Till date 51 fishermen and 58 fishing boats of those from Rameswaram and Jagadapattinam are in Sri Lankan custody for trespassing into Sri Lankan waters. Though the arrested are released after intervention by the union government, why this happens at all is a question.
The shallow coastline along Rameswaram forces fishermen to ply their trade near Katchatheevu, one nautical mile beyond the Indian maritime boundary line (IMBL) that extends 12 nautical miles from the coastline into the sea.
A reason for their foraying into this area is their seeking high priced, export quality prawns found abundantly near Katchatheevu. The shallow Rameswaram coast yields only crabs and minor fish. The shallow coast extends 10 nautical miles into the sea.
Albert Justin, Mannar fishermen’s association president said, “When our fishing grounds are harmed and our livelihood is affected by Indian fishermen, we can only support our navy which tries to stop this trespassing.” Though the state fisheries department tries to curb this by providing only enough diesel for a day’s fishing based on trawler engine’s horsepower, fishermen are known to overcome this through sly methods. An official source said, “The navy is helpless as they cannot locate the culprits from nearly 6000 boats which ply their trade from TN’s coastal districts.”
But N. Devadoss, president, Indo Sri Lankan talks committee said, “Fishermen being penalised for fishing near Katchatheevu will be a reality only when the Tuna Longliner cum Gill Netter is implemented totally. Till then, it was unfair to prevent them earning their livelihood,” he added. “When the new scheme is implemented in total, then there would be no need for fishermen to go to Katchatheevu”, he ended.
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