Rameswaram: As many as 3,000 fishermen, who gave up their work fearing attack by Sri Lankan Navy here, have moved to Kerala and Karnataka to earn their livelihood, Fishermen Association has said.
Rameswaram coast had the maximum number of fishing boats in Tamil Nadu and the fisher-folk faced multifarious problems even while fishing in the traditional areas due to attack by Sri Lankan Navy, the association president Emerit told.
The fish arrival has come down to 90 per cent in the recent days, leaving the fishermen jobless. There were about 4,000 fishermen in the island, he said.
Owners of most of the fishing boats were not providing assistance to the families of the fishermen, who had been detained in prison in Sri Lanka, Assistant Director of Fisheries Phelomen Thiagarajan claimed.
Emerit said a positive change would emerge only if the fishermen started venturing into the sea. "But for that the Central and state governments should take necessary steps to create a conducive atmosphere for the fishermen to fish in Indian waters without fear".
"We are only demanding our right to fish in the traditional area. Even in the Katchativu, an islet ceded to Sri Lanka by India, agreement the right to fish in the traditional area had not been denied. But the Sri Lankan navalmen are not allowing us to fish in these area also and threatening us," he said.
"Though India had recently summoned Sri Lankan High Commissioner and issued a demarche on the issue of 114 Indian fishermen lodged in Lankan jails, there was no change in the ground situation...And we continue to face the risk," he added.
However, an official of the Coast Guard said the Lankan Navy personnel were arresting the Indian fishermen as they were going as far as Mannar coast and using baned fishing nets.
He said the Palk Strait was too narrow a space to know difference between Indian and Sri Lankan waters for the illiterate fishermen. There was no established and fool proof system that would warn the fishermen crossing the IMBL.