Sri Lanka defends reef construction project


Days after Tamil Nadu fishermen protested Sri Lanka’s efforts to build an artificial reef off Delft Island, west of the Jaffna Peninsula, authorities defended the move “to improve fish farming ”.

Last week, Sri Lanka’s Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, with help from the Navy, launched a project, dropping around 20 abandoned buses in the sea off Delft, as had been done previously in d ‘other parts of the island nation, including eastern Trincomalee. district, officials said.

“Many countries, including India, have in the past created artificial reefs to facilitate the spawning of fish. Old train cars have been used in the United States, for example, ”said Fisheries Minister Douglas Devananda, who represents the Jaffna district in parliament. The Hindu. The move was supported by research undertaken by the Sri Lanka National Aquatic Resources Research and Development Agency (NARA), he said.

“In opposing an initiative in the territorial waters of Sri Lanka, the leaders of the fishermen of Tamil Nadu have come forward only as parties interested in fishing illegally in the Palk Strait,” he said. , referring to the long-standing fishing dispute.

For more than a decade now, dozens of Tamil fishermen living in war-stricken northern and eastern districts of Sri Lanka have been protesting against Tamil Nadu fishermen’s use of destructive bottom trawlers on the along their coasts, seriously affecting the marine ecosystem and their post-war environment. means of subsistence. Despite ongoing bilateral talks and several rounds of talks between fishermen from both countries, fishermen in Tamil Nadu have yet to respond to the constant demand from fishermen in northern Sri Lanka to stop bottom trawling in their seas. . On the other hand, fishermen in Tamil Nadu have accused the Sri Lankan navy of attacking and killing fishermen – allegations the Sri Lankan side denies.

Meanwhile, members of the All Mechanized Boat Fishermen Association staged a protest in Rameswaram last week, urging Sri Lanka to stop dumping “iron scraps” into the sea as it “affects” the marine ecology in the sea. the Palk Strait and “damage” their own boats and nets. In a tweet indicating that Sri Lanka also views its recent initiative as a deterrent against bottom trawling, Minister of State for Fisheries Kanchana Wijesekera said that if the artificial reef would stimulate spawning of fish, “ it will also serve as a shield against illegal bottom trawling. by Indian fishermen ”. It was not only the government that defended this decision, but also the fishermen’s cooperatives in Jaffna. “This initiative aims to improve our livelihoods by increasing fish production, and that’s why we welcomed it. We condemn certain sections of fishermen’s leaders in Tamil Nadu who oppose this initiative, ”said Annalingam Annarasa, head of the federation of fishermen’s cooperative societies in Jaffna.

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