Tamil Nadu fishermen sit on hunger strike over ban on use of purse seine nets

On Monday, more than 200 women hailing from Devanampattinam, the coastal hamlet near Cuddalore, intensified their protest and sought to meet the collector to hand over a petition but were denied permission, following which, the women participated in a hunger strike near the Cuddalore-Nagapattinam road near the municipal park.

Fishermen across the coastal areas of Tamil Nadu have been holding a protest to lift the ban on the use of purse seine nets by the fisheries department with those from Cuddalore, Mayiladuthurai, Nagapattinam holding hunger strikes and urging the government to roll back the ban which they claim is affecting their livelihood.

On Monday, more than 200 women hailing from Devanampattinam, the coastal hamlet near Cuddalore, intensified their protest and sought to meet the collector to hand over a petition but were denied permission, following which, the women participated in a hunger strike near the Cuddalore-Nagapattinam road near the municipal park.

The protest, which started around 1 pm on Monday, didn’t reach an amicable solution till 11 pm. The district officials tried to pacify them and dispersed the agitators.

Representatives of the fishing communities on Tuesday held a meeting with the SP and district collector. Speaking to Indianexpress.com, district collector K Balasubramaniam said, “We spoke with the representatives. They claim that their livelihood has been affected due to the ban and they want us to help them in this regard. We told them that the issue will be taken to the Tamil Nadu government and an amicable solution will soon be found.”

With a view to preserving marine resources, the Tamil Nadu government had banned the nets by invoking the Tamil Nadu Marine Fishing Regulations Act, 1983. The Madras High Court upheld the ban in 2018 and ever since the fishermen had been demanding to ease the restrictions. For the past few days, the fishermen had been protesting in several districts. In Mayiladuthurai, a fishermen community belonging to more than 11 villages launched a hunger strike.

Those from Chandrapadi marched towards the taluk office to surrender their ration and Aadhaar cards. When police stopped them, they staged a dharna in front of the office in Srikazhi following which, the tahsildar held talks with the protesters and said they will find a solution.

Tamil Nadu fisheries minister Anitha Radhakrishnan, who was on a visit to Nagapattinam, said fishermen have to cooperate with the government. He said the district collectors would have a dialogue with the representatives of the fishermen community.

Meanwhile, in Rameswaram, several people gathered on the shore opposing the Centre’s Fisheries Bill. They hoisted black flags on their boats and alleged that the new Bill asks them to remit a fee for fishing as well as places restrictions on their fishing areas and the quantity of their catch. They demanded the Centre to withdraw from tabling the Bill in the monsoon session of Parliament.

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