There had been two instances of rounding up of Indian fishermen in the palk straits as they were fishing off the coast of Rameshwaram this week, even when officials and ministers of the two nations Srilanka and India were discussing bilateral issues concerning fishermen of the countries and the country was celebrating Deepavali.
New mode of fishing and sea farming and employing long liners and deep sea fishing are the panacea prescribed and floated in the meet by Indian officials according to the information available in the press. What the counterparts from the neighbouring nation offered in the meet was not very explicitly known.
The suggestions to have long liners for deep sea fishing are received with lukewarm response, by the traditional east coast fishers, the reason being that they, unlike the Western coast seamen are not tuned for long period stay in the mid sea. They are Quickers, used to overnight stay or at best two nights stay.
Further they do not seem to have the seed capital to qualify for further assistance of subsidies, to build and operate the long liners meant for deep sea fishing that the Government avowedly champions.
Further, the most enterprising of these eastern fish lords are in dark on what would befall on the trawlers they have with them already which they have procured with loans from banks and private bodies and persons if they perchance opt for long liners for deep sea fishing.
No effort seems to have been taken to propagate the idea of deep sea fishing amidst such quick sea operators ,as a result , the scheme of deep sea fishing advocated by the Government with attractive subsidies is almost a non starter, with traditional fishermen for whose sake this has been conceived. It is feared that the scheme is likely to be grabbed by big corporates and companies ultimately leaving the traditional sea – fisher in the east coast high and dry.
Though the traditional fishermen ignore this scheme,they are glad that the Government of India has put a stop to the shooting down by Srilankan Navy , of fishermen who unwittingly cross the border which he rarely recognises, as it is his traditional fish -ground and as he well knows that the original agreement between the two countries does not forbid him from his fishing operation in his historical waters and resting ground and as he is well aware that all over the world pursuing finny drove is not a serious flagrancy.
But they feel the Government should come forward to stop the harassment not so much of the arrests the Srilankan navy makes but of the damages they cause to the Indian boats wantonly even when they are in sea , and also when they are docked in their ports after seizure, as the boats are built at high cost made good by borrowings and investing their life time savings : and of the piracy they indulge in by plundering their catch and their personal belonging like GPS , Wilkie talkies, and spares of engines of boats .
According to fishermen in the eastern coast, the immediate concern of our Government should be
- Prevention of malicious arrests,
- Prevention of wilful wreckage of seized boats.
- Prevention of piracy of catch and personal belongings of the boats like GPS ,walking talkies, and spares of boat engines.
by A.X Alexander