Traditional seine-net beaches (Karaivalai-paadu) of Eezham Tamils in the coastal tracts of Mullaiththeevu district are grabbed and distributed among Sinhala fishermen from the south by a team of SL fisheries officials from the south. The excuse is that the local Tamil fishermen in the LTTE controlled areas did not register their seine-net stretches with the SL fisheries ministry. 12 stretches in A’lampil, 8 stretches in Thoo’ndaavil and 5 stretches in Chemmalai are thus grabbed and given to the Sinhalese. The Mullaiththeevu Government Agent as well as the district fisheries director had no knowledge of what the Sinhala officials from the south were doing. Meanwhile, Sinhala fishermen in Kalpiddi in the south, after seeing Tamil Nadu trawlers in their waters, are meeting on Monday to mobilise ‘Jaffna-Sinhala’ corporation against ‘Indian poaching.’
A seine-net beach is a stretch of seashore along a potential area of the sea where schools of fishes come. Such stretches are community-owned for the use of laying the net to that width in the sea and then to draw it by pulling the ropes from the seashore. By convention, when one village, community or group use a particular stretch another will not come there. Such stretches are called Paadu in the country of Eezham Tamil and in Tamil Nadu. They are known as Paaduwa in Sinhala.
Using the gap in the fishing activities as people are not re-settled in the Mullaiththeevu district, and citing that the fishermen in the past (when the district was under the LTTE control), did not register them as fishermen with the SL fisheries ministry, the Sinhala fisheries officials have now started distributing the beaches to Sinhala fishermen from the south.
As a result, about 4000 Eezham Tamil fishermen have totally lost their livelihood in Mullaiththeevu.
What the colonial government officials from the south have decided cannot be repealed by the local authorities, say the district official circles when complaints were raised by local fisherment.
According to a legislation enacted in 1985 on seine-net beaches, a stretch should be of the width of 315 metres. But some of the stretches now distributed to Sinhala fishermen exceed as far as to 545 metres.
In a census taken after the Tsunami disaster of 2004, there were 1400 fishing boats of Eezham Tamils in Mullaiththeevu district and later the number increased to 3000. Around 15 fishermen societies operate in the district. Yet, ignoring everything, the Colombo government is distributing the seine-net beaches to the Sinhala fishermen, commented a member of the federation of fishermen associations in the district.
The Sinhala fishermen are migrants. They come here for six months during the potential season and then go back. But the Mullaiththeevu fishermen don’t migrate. They entirely depend on their seas and coasts throughout. They are seriously affected by the ongoing developments, the federation member further said.
What is going on is only a small part of the larger scheme of Colonial Colombo to keep Eezham Tamils marginalised in their own land, whether in agriculture, fisheries, trade or in industries.
While the so-called re-settled Tamils are confined to the pockets of open prisons under complete scrutiny of military intelligence and surrounded by occupying military, demographic and economic subordination of Tamils are carefully executed by military cantonments, military cultivating Tamil lands and colonisation of Sinhalese along the coasts and highway settlements of commercial importance, Tamil NGO workers said.