2010-11-03 15:20:57

Catholic priests support fishermen's protest against seaplanes

(Nov.03,2010) Catholic priests in Sri Lanka are supporting local fishermen’s protests against seaplanes, a government project which provides for the landing of flying boats in the lagoon. The project, which is part of a program for the development of tourism in Sri Lanka, puts at risk the livelihood of the families of the villages around the Negombo lagoon, and would also cause severe environmental damage. The fishermen have been praying in protest.
Some 2000 fishermen and social activists participated at Mass celebrated for the annual St. Jude Forest Birds Festival, Oct.31st in the parish of Kurulu Kele in the archdiocese of Colombo. It was presided over by Fr. Patrick Perera, vicar general of the northern part of the Diocese of Colombo, along with Fr Basil Wickremasinghe, pastor of the Church, and Fr Lester Nonis, director of the Catholic fishermen’s Association of Negombo.
During his homily, Fr. Nonis said that together with the church, they have taken steps to address the problem of the SeaPlane project, but have not received any positive response. Marcus Fernando, a member of the Negombo United fisher people, told AsiaNews that the Negombo lagoon provides direct livelihood to more than five thousand families of 35 villages around the lagoon. And almost four thousand families depend indirectly, including fish sellers, collectors, repair centres,etc. Stating that they are all small-scale fishermen, and their only means of livelihood is fishing, he said if this project goes through, the lives of many will be in danger.

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