- Minister Devananda meets fishermen in Negombo; outlines a number of decisions taken to provide relief to fishermen, assures cleaning work in Negombo Lagoon, Hamilton Canal
- Devananda explains on designated no-go zone, says the restriction is to protect fishermen, fishing vessels and equipment due to the ship’s wreckage
- State Minister Kanchana urges public not to be apprehensive about eating fish as no scientific proof yet on adverse impacts from consumption
- Lanza assures to provide relief to the fishing community, including increased prices of diesel and kerosene
|Fisheries Minister Douglas Devananda
Fisheries Minister Douglas Devananda held a special meeting to resolve the difficulties of the Negombo fishing community affected by the MV-Xpress Pearl and to inform them of the decisions taken by the Government in this regard.
The discussion held on Saturday at the Negombo Town Hall was attended by State Minister for Fisheries Kanchana Wijesekera, State Minister for Rural Roads and Other Infrastructure Nimal Lanza, representatives of fisheries societies from Palliyawatta, Wattala to Porathota, Negombo and Negombo Lagoon Fisheries Societies.
The Fisheries Minister said that the President and Prime Minister have instructed that all necessary steps be taken to uplift the fishing community affected by the destroyed ship.
He noted that fishing activities in the Negombo Lagoon will no longer be hampered as NARA and the Atomic Energy Authority have confirmed that no oil or chemical has been dumped on the ship.
“The area is currently designated as a no-go zone, as it could cause damage to fishermen, fishing vessels and equipment due to the ship›s wreckage. There is no problem in fishing in areas other than the restricted area. The restricted areas, too, will be released in a phased-out manner in the immediate future. Coastal and ocean clean-up operations are being carried out to ensure that fishing is not a problem. Negombo Lagoon and the Hamilton Canal were being cleaned, too,” he explained.
Devananda also said that compensation will be paid in the future due to the damage caused to the fishing community. “Relevant district secretaries have been instructed to pay Rs. 5,000 allowance to sustain the livelihoods affected by this unfortunate incident from today (Saturday),” he added.
The Fisheries Minister also noted that a decision to set a fixed price for fishing gear and equipment will be taken in consultation with the relevant businessmen post-COVID-19.
State Minister Wijesekera called on the general public to not be unduly apprehensive about eating fish as it has not yet been scientifically proven to be unsuitable for consumption.
“If there is a problem with the sale of fish, the Fisheries Corporation will directly intervene to buy them. The Peliyagoda fish market as well as 22 fishing harbours have been prepared for this purpose,” he added. According to Wijesekera as of Friday (11 June), nearly 2,000 kg of fish had been purchased from the Peliyagoda fish market and nearly 9,000 kg from other places. Retail sales will not be allowed due to existing travel restrictions and wholesale and mobile trade will not be banned.
“Nearly 23 fishing-related fields have been affected so far. The Government has so far calculated the lost revenue and presented it as a preliminary stage for the compensation program. The Government will take all necessary steps to provide relief to the fishing community,” he said.
He reiterated that compensation for the damage caused by the ship will be provided by the Ministry of Justice and the Attorney General›s Department.
State Minister Lanza said the Government will provide relief to the fishing community by resolving the problems faced by the fishing community due to the increase in diesel and kerosene prices since midnight on Saturday.
“We stand for the provisions of relief to the fishing community in Negombo and other areas. Damage from the ship, natural disasters, as well as the impact of rising world oil prices pose major difficulties for those who contribute to the country’s economy. Therefore, I request the Ministry of Fisheries to formulate a methodology in consultation with the President and the Prime Minister. Assistance will be provided to take necessary action for that,” he stressed.