The ‘Meenavar Urimai Koottamaippu,’ an organisation to protect the rights of fishermen, appealed to the Indian Government to take immediate steps to retrieve the boats of Tamil Nadu fishermen detained in Sri Lanka and felt that the only way to stop “atrocities” of Sri Lankan Navy would be to retrieve Katchatheevu, The Hindu newspaper reported.
The organisation also demanded reservation of seats for fishermen to contest in Lok Sabha, Assembly and local body elections.
In the ‘Fishermen Declaration’ released at a meeting in Rameswaram, the federation called upon political parties to nominate fishermen as candidates in areas where the fishing community was in majority.
The declaration said that over 20 lakh fishermen, belonging to 22 caste groups, were earning their livelihood in the coastal districts of Tamil Nadu.
Though they were also the guardians of marine wealth, exploitation of the coast for commercial activities and tourism development made them feel alienated.
All coastal areas encroached for commercial activities should be returned to fishermen.
Recalling the assurance of the Bharatiya Janata Party in its 2014 election manifesto, the meeting appealed to the Centre to create an exclusive Ministry for Fishermen Welfare under the charge of a Cabinet Minister.
It also wanted the State government to rename the Department of Fisheries as Department of Fisheries and Fishermen Welfare.
It called for a nationwide ban on use of purse seine (banned net), twin trawling, pair trawling and bull trawling, practices that endangered marine wealth. (Colombo Gazette)