Urging the Centre to expedite its diplomatic efforts in securing the release of fishermen apprehended by Sri Lankan authorities, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin expressed concerns about the increase in attacks on members of the state’s fishing community in the region and urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to intervene and resolve the issue at the earliest.
In his letter to Prime Minister Modi, Chief Minister Stalin stated, “I am writing to express my deep concern regarding the alarming increase in incidents of apprehension of Tamil fishermen and their boats by the Sri Lankan authorities. This issue severely impacts the right to livelihood of these fishermen, as the communities have utilised these fishing waters for generations.”
CM Stalin urged Prime Minister Modi to renew the Joint Action Group to resolve fishermen’s issues.
He also highlighted a ‘significant increase’ in the number of fishermen being arrested.
“The traditional fishing waters that Tamil fishermen have relied upon for generations are getting increasingly restricted, making it difficult to sustain their livelihood impacting the economic stability of these communities. This also threatens the cultural and social fabric of the region that revolves around the fishing industry. During 2023, the Sri Lankan navy arrested 243 fishermen and seized 37 boats. However, in the past 28 days alone, 88 fishermen and 12 boats were apprehended in six incidents,” CM Stalin wrote.
He mentioned that a legislation recently passed in Sri Lanka allows the country to nationalise the seized boats, which could drive members of the state’s fishing community into penury.
“I had previously addressed you regarding the amendment made to the Fisheries Act by the Government of Sri Lanka in 2018, which enables the Sri Lankan Government to nationalise foreign fishing vessels. Due to this action of Sri Lanka, the seized fishing boats of our fishermen that are in good condition cannot be salvaged and brought back to Tamil Nadu. Many fishermen have invested their life savings in acquiring and maintaining their boats, which are vital for their trade,” he wrote while urging the Sri Lankan government to make necessary amendments to the law.
CM Stalin also requested Prime Minister Modi to ensure that “all-out diplomatic efforts should be made to secure the release of 77 fishermen and their 151 boats from Sri Lanka”.