SL Navy terror, lesser fish stock push them abroad
By Express News Service - RAMANATHAPURAM
18th July 2012 10:02 AM
The fear of attacks by the Sri Lankan Navy and depletion of marine resources in the Palk Bay have forced the fishermen from Ramanathapuram district to look for green pastures in the Middle East.
According to sources, around 5,000 fishermen of Karankadu, Mullimunai, Pudupattinam, Nambuthalai, Pasipattinam, Rameswaram, and other coastal villages, have moved to Gulf to work in fishing companies in the last decade.
Keviston, a fisherman of Pamban, said many fishermen have moved aboard due to the frequent attacks by the Sri Lankan Navy. The fishing population in the Palk Bay and Gulf of Mannar have depleted. “We have no other opinion but to look for fish in Sri Lankan waters,” said Keviston.
“But the Sri Lankan Navy chases us away and even attacks us if they found us fishing in their waters,” he said. “The attack from the Navy has increased in the recent years.”
Arulanandham, state coordinator for Alliance for the Release of Innocent Fishermen (ARIF) said that fishermen with country-made boats were unable to compete with mechanized boats and were forced to seek work elsewhere.
Though the fishermen manage to reach Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Bahrain, Abu Dhabi and Oman with proper visa, but things are not easy for in Gulf.
“Many of us go with the help of relatives, who are already settled in the Middle East. The local boat owners hire us, but pay us less amount and ill-treat us,” a fisherman said.
“The local boat owners there doesn’t directly involve in fishing, they accompany for giving sea directions. We are paid between `10,000 and 15,000 per month, and are forced into menial jobs like cleaning houses and cars,” said a fisherman from Sekar’s neighbourhood.
The boat owners do not bother about their safety. Raju of Thoppuvalasai village, who worked in Dubai few years back, claimed that in 1988, three fishermen from Mudiveeranpattinam and another from a coastal village of Ramathapuram were killed when defence forces opened fire. “But so far, their bodies were not traced,” said Raju.
The Government should take steps either to improve the livelihood of fishermen in Tamil Nadu or improve the security for them when they work in aboard, they say.
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