Poaching: Devananda asks for UN intervention amidst protests in TN over latest arrests



Minister Devananda takes up contentious issue of continuing Indian poaching with UN Resident Coordinator in Colombo Marc-André Franche

By Shamindra Ferdinando

The government has requested UN intervention to prevent the large Indian fishing fleet from poaching in Sri Lankan waters.

Fisheries Minister Douglas Devananda has made the request on behalf of the Wickremesinghe-Rajapaksa government. A statement issued by the Fisheries Ministry on 16 Oct., quoted Devananda as having told UN Resident Coordinator in Colombo Marc-André Franche that the invasion of Sri Lankan waters was a serious problem.

The UN veteran, who had served in Libya as Resident Representative of the UN Development Programme before taking over the top job here, was quoted as having assured that the issue would be looked into and brought to the notice of New Delhi.

Devananda, the leader of the Eelam People’s Democratic Party (EPDP) received the UN official at his office where they discussed the challenges experienced by the fishing community here. The EPDP is a constituent party of the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP).

According to the Fisheries Ministry statement, Devananda has requested the UN official to explore ways and means of backing Sri Lanka’s efforts to introduce and expand the use of electric motor boats to overcome the difficulties posed by increasing fuel prices. The Jaffna District lawmaker has also sought assistance for the implementation of social welfare and education projects for the benefit of the fisher communities.

Parliament recently announced that USD 300 mn was expected from the UN for projects here over the next five years.

In addition to the local issues, the lawmaker has brought up the poaching as northern seas remained tense due to well organized large scale poaching by the Indian fishing fleet. Minister Devananda has raised the issue within 48 hours after the Navy apprehended five trawlers, along with 27 fishers, in three separate detections off Mannar, near Delft, and close to Kachchativu.

Navy headquarters said that so far this year altogether 22 trawlers and 137 fishers had been arrested as part of the ongoing operations meant to discourage poaching. The latest arrests triggered protests in Tamil Nadu while the TNA administration sought New Delhi’s immediate intervention to secure the release of fishers, mostly from Rameswaram.

Meanwhile, the 11 edition of the Navy to Navy Staff Talks between Indian and SL delegations that began on 17 Oct., at the Light House Gallery, Colombo, would conclude today (19). Navy headquarters statement, dated 17 Oct., said that discussions primarily centered on enhancing bilateral relations, fostering cooperation and interoperability, facilitating training exchanges, promoting knowledge and information sharing, coordinating hydrography activities, and planning joint exercises, among other topics.