Fisherfolk seek relief | Page 3 | Sunday Observer
On the brink of starvation:

Fisherfolk seek relief

8 November, 2020

The authorities should either allow fishermen to sell their cache for at least a few hours a day to enable them to make a living or provide food and other necessities to the fisher community which is on the brink of starvation due to the lockdown, said fishery trade union representatives last week.They said there is no point in allowing them to fish when there is no way to sell.

People are reluctant to consume fish due to the fear that  has been created by the pandemic.“

Fisher families have been affected since the outbreak of the virus early this year and to-date all our pleas for a viable solution has fallen on deaf ears,” All Ceylon Fisher-folk Trade Union President Aruna Roshantha Fernando said.

Fishery community heads  call on the Government to come up with a plan either to open the fish markets in quarantine areas or to ensure the delivery of food and other essentials.

“The authorities should understand the plight of all those who lead a hand to mouth existence. We have no savings such as monthly wage earners who could withstand such situations for sometime, Fernando said, adding that even before the lockdown the prices of fish had dropped drastically from around Rs. 1,500 a kilo to around Rs. 700. Fisher-folk associations said that they have to face the situation while fuel prices are still the same. They said a  price reduction in line with global prices will give them some respite.

“We cannot understand why the Government cannot reduce oil prices when global crude prices have dropped sharply. This is the time they should be concerned about the affected people to help them keep the wolf from the door,” Fernando said.

Fisher communities by no means undermine the precautions taken to curtail the spread of the virus. However, their plea is to ensure they could put food on table while priority is being given to healthcare.

Fisher-folk across the country have been in an appalling state for over seven months due to frequent interruptions to their occupation depriving them of a steady income to keep the home fires burning.

Fishermen are confined to their homes and prefer to be like that  until the green light is given to open markets.

Associations have been harping on the same string for measures to eliminate the exploitation by middlemen and those in the supply chain.

 The fisheries sector comprises over 300,000 direct and over one million indirect beneficiaries contributing around 1.5 percent to the country’s GDP.

Meanwhile fisheries trade union representatives call on the authorities to amend the  laws pertaining to the fisheries sector to address the exploitation of the country’s marine resources by foreign fishing vessels.