- Published on Tuesday, 06 November 2012 20:11
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Minister of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development Dr. Rajitha Senaratne refuted misleading and malicious reports made by a Sunday political newspaper and an FM Channel saying the European Union is to blacklist Sri Lanka from exporting fish and fish products to EU countries.
The Minister said that this kind of baseless and misleading reporting aimed at attacking individuals with political motives harm the image of the country and media personnel should give first preference to safeguard the image of the country without sensationalising baseless reports.
Dr. Senaratne gave a lengthy explanation of steps taken by him upon assuming the Fisheries portfolio to strengthen relations between Sri Lanka and the European Union on fish and fish products exports and adopting EU regulations pertaining to the fishing industry. He said that Sri Lanka is strictly imposing EU conditions on illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing practices.
The Minister said that in line with the request made by the EU, the Fisheries Act No. 2 of 1996 is being revised and it will be enacted as a Law within the next four months and the EU is fully aware of these measures being taken by the government. He said that the revised Act will provide provision to increase the fine for violation of international fishing rules to 1.5 Million rupees and will increase the prison term for two years. Similarly the skipper’s license will be cancelled and the fishermen found guilty will not be permitted to enter any of the fisheries harbours in Sri Lanka.
The Minister said that it has been found that certain fishermen are deliberately violating international maritime laws in the pretext of ignorance and thereby making disrepute to the country. He said that for him the country’s reputation is foremost important and he is not prepared to show any kind of lenience to those who bring disrepute to the country.
Going back to the adverse newspaper reports the Minister reading the communications between his Ministry and the EU indicated that nowhere in the communications the EU has made any indication or hint about imposing sanctions against Sri Lanka and they have on many instances expressed satisfactions about controls being imposed by Sri Lanka on illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing activities and steps are being taken by the government to regulate the fishing industry.
The Minister also pointed that although the writer or the editor of the political weekly is in a dream world and desires harm to befall on the country, the Parliamentarians representing the political party of the newspaper concerned has commended the achievements made by the Fisheries sector in the recent period. (niz)