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Sri Lankan fishermen being strangled by fuel costs May 16,2018   |  Source: UCA

Rising fuel prices have led to widespread protests by unionized fishermen in Sri Lanka, many of whom have refused to head out to sea since May 14 as they demand the government heed their call to keep a lid on the cost of kerosene and petrol.

As part of their demonstration they have also hoisted black flags on their boats and trawlers, forcing fish markets to close and leaving harbors full.

On May 10, the government increased the price of kerosene by 57 rupees (US$0.36) per liter, petrol by 20 rupees and diesel by 14 rupees.

It takes 20-35 liters of kerosene to fuel a small single-engine boat for a day's fishing which is making the job untenable for many, hence the decision to stay docked until the prices are reduced, said Loyal Pieris, president of the National Fisher Union.

"The cost of fuel has risen from 1,500 to 3,000 rupees per day (US$9.40-$18.80)," said Pieris, who represents 2,000 union members.

Following the countrywide protest and continuous boycotting of fishing activities, the government agreed to provide fuel subsidies from May 18.

But Pieris said his members would not be satisfied with this measure, which was attempted previously, and urged the government to reduce fuel prices across the board.

"When they arranged fuel subsidies last time, some


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