Fishermen stir: island town's economy badly hit

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Rameswaram, July 8 (UNI) The economy of the Island town of Rameswaram, a major marine food centre in south India, is on the verge of collapse, thanks to an indefinite strike by fishermen which entered the fourth day today.

More than 3,000 fishermen of over 850 registered mechanized fishing boats in the island did not put out to sea in protest against indiscriminate attacks against them by the Sri Lankan navy.

The strike has affected the livelihood of about 20,000 people, including fishermen, boat mechanics, agents, boat owners and others who depend on the fishing industry here.

The striking fishermen are demanding that the union government should immediately intervene and ensure that their lives should be protected.

The indefinite strike by fishermen has resulted in loss of production to the tune of Rs 8 crore, so far to the fishing industry.

Talking to UNI today, S Vel Pandiyan, Assistant Director (Marine), Fisheries Department, Government of Tamil Nadu said the catch was 1,000 tonnes of fishes per day, including lobsters, squids, prawns, vanjiram, crabs and vaval. Normally, fishermen using mechanized boats venture into the sea for fishing thrice in a week- on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. Apart from local consumption, a sizeable number of lobsters, large-sized prawns, vanjirams, crabs and squids were taken to Kochi, Tuticorin and Chennai ports for export.

He said the officials of the fisheries department were holding negotiations with the leaders and representatives of various fishermen associations to end the strike.

Due to the strike, fishing operations have come to a standstill in Rameswaram Island. The busy Rameswaram jetty wears a deserted look.

Police have made tight security arrangements in the sensitive coastal hamlets in view of the stir by fishermen.

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