Indian fishermen back in SL seas 

BY Dinitha Rathnayake 

Indian fishermen have started returning to the Northern waters of Sri Lanka, according to All-Ceylon Fisheries Federation National Organiser Ratna Gamage.

Speaking to The Morning, he said that the local fishing industry has completely collapsed due to the shortage of fuel.

As the two-month ban imposed on Tamil Nadu’s bottom trawlers in Sri Lankan waters came to an end, Indian fishermen have begun returning to Northern waters.

With Northern fishermen struggling to secure adequate kerosene to go fishing these days due to the ongoing fuel shortage, hundreds of Indian mechanised bottom trawlers entered Sri Lankan territorial waters near the Delft Island and are engaged in fishing, the Federation claims.

“The economic crisis made things far worse for our community since daily wage earners are struggling to put food on the table. Others are merely managing with savings and pawning their jewellery. How long can we survive like this?”

As a result, fish prices have also increased sharply in recent weeks due to a limited catch and increasing demand in local markets. Many war-affected families and fisheries workers who depend on fishing are struggling to survive due to the fuel crisis.

However, according to the Navy, around 20 bottom trawlers have arrived in the Sri Lankan waters recently, adding that the numbers have not increased to hundreds.

Meanwhile, speaking to The Morning, Fisheries Ministry Secretary R.M.I. Rathnayake said that the Government is controlling the arrival of Indian trawlers.

The Ministry has also introduced a budget pack of fresh fish at a price of Rs. 1,350, which would be sold at Sathosa and Ceylon Fisheries Corporation (CFC) outlets for the convenience of customers.

“We need to control the prices of fish and provide fuel-related relief for the fishermen. We hope to provide a solution to the fuel crisis soon,“ she said.