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A boon for fisheries

The Government's decision to ease fishing restrictions in Jaffna following the regaining of Pooneryn is a welcome move and one that would greatly ease the hardship of a community that has been the worst hit by the three decades long conflict.

The battles in the North and the ensuing security imperatives dealt a body blow to the fishing community in the North whose livelihoods were virtually washed away into the seas. Now they have been given hope of restarting their shattered lives and once again becoming their industrious selves, a hallmark of the Jaffna entrepreneur.

According to Military Spokesman Brig.Udaya Nanayakkara with the entire North western seaboard now under the control of the Forces it has been possible to not only lift the restriction on fishing hours but also the perimeters for fishing.

The problems of the Northern fisherman had been a major issue during the three decades long conflict. Naturally the Security situation compelled the authorities to impose restrictions on fishing due to the threat of Tigers mingling with or posing as fishermen and also the use of fishing boats to smuggle weapons.

From time to time representations had been made by the Catholic Bishops of Jaffna and Mannar to the Government for easing these restrictions to enable fishermen to continue with their livelihood. No doubt these restrictions put paid to a once thriving fishing industry and dealt a blow to the Northern fishermen.

The fishing industry as a whole suffered since even the migrant fishermen of the South were debarred from their traditional stakeouts. This also in a way affected the fish prices in other parts of the country.

The fishermen have said that with the lifting of restrictions they would now be able to catch at least 8,000 kg -10,000 kgs of fish daily. This, it is hoped would be the beginning of the revival of the Northern fisheries sector and the transport of fish from Jaffna to the South as in the past.

This, while leading to a drop in fish prices bringing a rich source of protein within the purse of the average consumer would also reforge a vital link with the North that was severed all these years. In this respect the Government should be commended for losing no time in restoring normality in the areas recaptured from the LTTE by ensuring a return to civilian life and normal activities.

It should now take steps to gradually start rebuilding the fisheries infrastructure in the North that was destroyed over the years as well as the shattered community life. The sooner it starts this process with the liberation of territory the better the chance of winning the hearts and minds of the people.

This it is doing successfully in the East and hopefully would be replicated in the newly liberated areas in the North as well. As mentioned all measures should taken to revive the once thriving fishing industry in the North as a step in the integration process.

It is common knowledge the Northern seas fetch rich harvests and steps should be taken to set up a fish canning factory in the North. This while providing employment to the youth would also provide big boon to the fishery sector in the peninsula.

It is an indictment on Sri Lanka that although being an island nation we are still importing canned fish. This is partly due to fact that we still adopt primitive methods for fishing unlike other countries who use sophisticated gear and equipment to net in a bigger catch and larger varieties.

Our fishermen too should be made familiar with modern fishing methods so that we could not only cater to the local demand but also export our fish and earn valuable foreign exchange.

Our fishermen should be educated to go beyond their traditional fishing methods and embrace new trends. The University for Ocean Sciences (Sagara Vishwavidyalaya) a brainchild of President Mahinda Rajapaksa when he was Minister of Fisheries and incorporated in the Mahinda Chintanaya it is hoped would help bring our fishermen up to date with the latest trends.

It is paramount that they be induced to cast off moribund methods and adopt new technology in order to catch up with the latest trends in fishing, if we are to make maximum use of our ocean resources.

A loan scheme should be started to provide fishermen with modern equipment and other wherewithal. Our fishermen should be elevated to a new status so they could take pride in their profession.

Today like the children of farmers the offspring of fishermen too venture out into new pastures outside their traditional calling. This would see a dwindling the tribe of fishermen with their next generation opting for 'respectable' jobs. This trend should be arrested by providing more incentives and enhancing the prospects of our fishing community.
 

The unholy alliance of the LTTE and the JVP

For years after the JVP leader Rohana Wijeweera unleashed a Molotov-style cocktail revolution in 1971 in a futile attempt to grab power but was thwarted under the leadership of Sirimavo Bandaranaike and Felix Reginald Dias Bandaranaike, and the subsequent political developments in Sri Lanka, which showed some ascendancy of the political power of the JVP mainly due to its campaign they carried out against the Tamil political groups including Thondaman and then the LTTE, the people of Sri Lanka had always believed that the arch enemy of the LTTE was not the Government but the JVP.

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Today is Lalith Athulathmudali’s 72nd birth anniversary

‘We must not give up resolve to fight the LTTE’

The Late Minister Lalith Athulathmudali, sought to answer some vital questions on the ethnic problem and its roots with facts and figures during his contribution to the debate on the extension of the Emergency on August 23, 1990. Following is an excerpt of his address. He was gunned down three years later.

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Uva uprising and human rights

Wednesday, November 26 marks the 190th anniversary of the execution at Bogambara, Kandy of the patriot and national hero Monarawila Keppettipola, who led the first anti-British independence struggle (1817-18) in the Uva Province. It is a fitting occasion to examine the track record of the ancestors of some of today’s international ‘human rights’ champions and democracy advocates.

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