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Emergency Call Service to aid fishermen in distress

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The Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (Amendment) Bill submitted to amend the Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Act No. 2 of 1996 was approved by the Sectoral Oversight Committee on Food Security and Agriculture.

This approval was given when the Sectoral Oversight Committee on Food Security and Agriculture met in Parliament recently under the chairmanship of MP D. Weerasinghe.

The meeting was attended by a group of officials including the Secretary of the Ministry of Fisheries and youth representatives appointed for the Sectoral Oversight Committee.

In the case of illegal, unreported and informal fishing, only the license holder is found guilty under existing legal provisions. But the Fisheries Act has not interpreted who the license holder is. Due to this, obstacles have arisen in taking legal action.

Officials said that through the new amendments, in addition to the boat owner, skipper of the boat, any person onboard are also guilty of that offence. The officials added that fishermen associations have also requested to amend these provisions.

The Bill was challenged in the Supreme Court following the first reading in Parliament on July 5, 2023 by Fisheries Minister Douglas Devananda.
Accordingly, according to the determination given by the Supreme Court, the amendments to be presented in the committee of the Bill were also discussed and approved.

Furthermore, when fishing boats are involved in accidents, there are no officials appointed by the ministry to provide immediate relief to the victims and take legal action, MP Weerasinghe pointed out.
Officials said that there are fisheries offices in 15 coastal districts for which fisheries inspectors and development officers have been appointed. Also, the officials pointed out that the support of the Navy will be obtained in all areas. However, since people coming from other areas may not know the fisheries inspectors of the respective area, the chairman of the committee recommended that steps be taken to introduce an Emergency Call Service that fishermen in any area can call immediately in case of accidents.

Apart from this, matters related to granting permission for temporary rest areas for fishermen built along the coast, quality of fishing boats, insurance for boats and fresh water fish farming were also discussed.

MPs Sudath Manjula, Kapila Athukorala, Kins Nelson and Lalith Waranakumara participated in the meeting.

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SLFP to support no-confidence motion against the Speaker

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The Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) has announced its endorsement of the no-confidence motion to be brought against the Speaker of Parliament Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena.

Accordingly, the SLFP announced that it will support the motion being brought against the Speaker by the opposition, and will vote in favour of it.

On Monday (26 Feb.), several Opposition members, led by Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) Leader Sajith Premadasa, signed a motion of no confidence against the Speaker, claiming that he had violated the Constitution.

As such, a group of MPs belonging to the opposition in Parliament including M. A. Sumanthiran, Lakshman Kiriella, Prof. G. L. Pieris, Tissa Attanayake, Chandima Weerakkody and Shan Wijayalal de Silva, had inked the motion for approving the much-disputed Online Safety Bill amidst ‘irregular procedures’.

The no-confidence motion pointed out that the Speaker had ignored the Supreme Court’s recommendations pertaining to Sections 13, 17, 20, 33 (6), 34 (1), 35 (1), 21, 22 and 33 of the Online Safety Bill.

Earlier this month, Opposition Leader charged that the Speaker had ignored nine recommendations given by the Supreme Court while enacting the Online Safety Act, adding that they no longer have faith in him.

(adaderana.lk)

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School outdoor activities suspended over soaring temperatures

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The Education Ministry has instructed all respective school authorities to refrain from making students participate in strenuous outdoor activities until Friday (March 01) at schools as temperatures are expected to rise further.

Accordingly, Sports Day events, sports practices or any other scheduled outdoor activities are urged to be suspended for the time being.

Provincial and zonal authorities of education have been instructed to brief school principals about the matter, the ministry said in a press release.

In addition, school administrations are required to comply with the health guidelines issued by the Health Ministry and the Education Ministry.

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Court suspends divestiture process of SLT & Lanka Hospitals

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The Court of Appeal yesterday (27) issued an interim order preventing authorities from proceeding with the divestiture process of Sri Lanka Telecom and Lanka Hospitals Corporation PLC, until March 12.

Three Petitions were filed for Sri Lanka Telecom PLC including by Lyca Mobiles, and S.M.R. M company, while two petitions were filed for Lanka Hospitals Corporation PLC including by Lyca Leasing Holdings.

Upon the oral submissions made by President’s Counsel Kuvera De Zoysa, Court of Appeal Justice D.N. Samarakoon issued notices on respondents, returnable for March 12.

The petitioners named Minister of Finance Ranil Wickremesinghe, State Minister of Finance Shehan Semasinghe, the members of the special Cabinet-appointed negotiating committee for the purpose of selecting pre-qualified bidders for the strategic divestiture pertaining to 51.34% shares of Lanka Hospitals PLC and several others as respondents.

Kuvera De Zoysa, PC with Raslka Dissanayake, Sajana de Zoysa, Dinusha Pathirana and Shablr Huzalr instructed by Sanath Wijewardane appeared for the petitioners.

The petitioners had informed the court that they had submitted bids per the required criteria for the divestiture of the Sri Lankan Government’s shares of 50.23% in Sri Lanka Telecom PLC and 51.34% in Lanka Hospitals Corporation PLC.

The petitioners alleged that, however, the Cabinet of Ministers had rejected the bids without providing any clear explanations, adding that the decision was against the law.

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