The World Fisheries Day was celebrated in Sri Lanka by the National Fisheries Solidarity Organization (NAFSO) at Kilinochchi in the Northern Province of Sri Lanka. Under the leadership of the NAFSO Convener and General Secretary of the World Forum of Fisher Peoples (WFFP) Herman Kumara, nearly 650 fisher people representing district fisher organizations, members of civil societies, trade unions, women’s organizations, youth groups, academics, religious leaders from Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim and Christian religions participated in this event.
The theme of this year’s celebration was “Let’s Ensure Food Sovereignty through right to Aquatic Resources, right to Land and Climate Justice”. This theme was decided to coincide with the COP 28 Conference to be held in Dubai, UAE Nov/Dec. 2023. The event held in Killinochchi commenced with a march by trade union, women and youth members of fisher organizations from 15 districts expressing their solidarity and presenting their various issues followed by a gathering of all participants at the Cooperative Hall of Killinochchi. An opportunity was created for speakers from NAFSO, the University of Kelaniya, National Fisheries Union, Northern Province Fisher People Unity (NPFPU) National Fisheries Women Federation, youth movement leader and District Coordinators of Galle and Kilinochchi to present their views.
Addressing the gathering, Mr. Herman Kumara brought to the attention of the participants on the need to implement the UN/FAO Voluntary Guidelines for securing sustainable Small Scale Fisheries (SSF). He also made the people aware of the Sri Lankan Government’s new Fisheries & Aquatic Resources Act which is proposed to replace the original Act No.2 of 1996 that will severely affect the small scale fishers in Sri Lanka and called on all fisher people’s solidarity against this Act. Bringing attention to the suffering of people during the Indian Ocean Tsunami and the 30 year war in Sri Lanka, a one minute’s silence was observed to remember those who lost their lives. A lamp was also lit remembering those are no more with us. Similarly, he expressed sympathy for the victims of the conflict between Israel and Palestine and the atrocities done to the women and children on both sides.
A fisher leader, Francis Joseph was felicitated for his dedication on fisher issues, his leadership to address the issues of fisher communities and most importantly his commitment to organize the event at Kilinochchiya amidst pressure and some threats to the team.
Finally, scholarships were awarded to five deserving school children, followed by issuance of three publications.
The program consisted of presentations of several colorful cultural and traditional dances by the youth and women of the fisher communities.