NAFSO ridicules Justice Ministry deadline
By Sulochana Ramiah Mohan
National Fisheries Solidarity Organisation (NAFSO) Convener Herman Kumara ridiculed the Justice Ministry’s call to obtain views from stakeholders and to assess the damage caused by the X-Press Pearl, by 21 June, while the country is under lockdown.
The Justice Ministry has advertised in the print and social media that institutions, organisations or parties who are interested in to submit their views and information regarding the matter by 21 June.
In response to this advertisement, Kumara said, “We are in a dilemma over how all that can be assessed within the next six days as the Justice Ministry wants.” “The situation is really worsening and worrying and we have just started a social and economic survey from Colombo to Kalpitiya on the fishing community and the impact due to the burnt ship.
Retailers are not going to the fishing community to buy fish because vendors are unable to sell. It’s a terrible situation that has spread to the entire fishing community including the North and the East,” he added.
The Justice Ministry said it has appointed subcommittees such as on insurance, legal matters, fisheries affairs, environmental matters and economic affair and has sought stakeholders’ views and information by 21 June 2021. “It’s a massive operation and still the ship has not been removed. How can these committees push to get such information within the next six days when the country is paralysed,” he stressed.
The fishing community is badly hit from Colombo up to the North and in the Puttalam area where fish is not being consumed after seeing sea animals dying and in fear of the acid leak from the ship, he noted. While there is a colossal revenue loss for the fishing community of the country and the impact is just beginning to tell, how anyone can go about talking about the damage and revenue loss to the fishermen, he asked.
Speaking to Ceylon Today, Kumara noted that some of the fishermen in Pitipane are on social media claiming that fish can be eaten, while cooking it in public places. But that is incorrect because Government needs to first work with the stakeholders to remove the ship from where the sheen of grey of oil has been spotted and clear the ocean first.
“So far, eight dolphins and 30 sea turtles have perished due to marine pollution. Also, the Coral reefs are damaged. The National Aquatic Resources Research and Development Agency and the Centre for Poverty Analysis are still conducting the survey.” He also said many fish were found dead with plastic nurdles stuck in their gills.
So, all the sea animals’ deaths have caused a serious setback for consumers as well as for those in the fishing community.” How can someone confirm all information from the entire fishing community that fast, he questioned. He said the Government is getting the first interim compensation of US$ 40 million from the X-Press Feeders for those who have been affected.
“What plan do they have to disperse the money? How was it that US$ 40 million was estimated, to begin with. The entire episode with the ship remains dubious,” he added.