'Inexperienced Indian fishermen do not understand maritime demarcations,' hence land in Lankan prisons: Expert

Since both countries have been fishing closely in Palk Strait there is a continuous conflict of interest between the fishing communities.

Published: 06th March 2022 04:30 PM  |   Last Updated: 06th March 2022 05:59 PM   |  A+A-


Image used for representational purposes only (Photo | EPS)

Express News Service

NEW DELHI: India and Sri Lanka have had a long-standing relationship with each other for centuries. However, one issue they haven’t been able to find a solution for yet is the fishermen's issue.

"Often Indian fishermen transgress into Sri Lankan waters and are detained. This has been going on for years," claims an India-Sri Lanka expert.

"One of the main reasons for Indian fishermen’s detention is that they get into the Sri Lankan territory. The huge trawlers that come out for fishing are given out on contract and the 'inexperienced fishermen' that go out to fish don’t understand the demarcations. Their objective is primarily to bring loads of fish back to the contractor. As a result of which they end up getting detained, sometimes they undergo a jail term and their trawlers are confiscated and put up for auction," the expert told TNIE.

Both Indian and Sri Lankan fishermen are primarily competing for the same catch.

In February, Indian fishing trawlers were impounded by court order in Colombo and were put on auction. Around 135 boats/trawlers had been detained in Jaffna (Kytes) and one 88-feet trawler was sold for Rs 3.5 million (Sri Lankan rupee). As a result of this Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, M K Stalin, had sought the intervention of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) to get these boats/trawlers back and prevent their auction.

Interestingly, in a bid to stop this logjam, leaders of fishermen’s associations in Jaffna, Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu, in a written communication to Chief Minister Stalin, yesterday, highlighted their issues and sought his intervention to resolve this issue.

Indian and Sri Lanka maritime boundary agreements were signed in 1974 and 1976 defining the maritime boundaries between the two. Since both countries have been fishing closely in Palk Strait (between Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka) there is a continuous conflict of interest between the fishing communities.

Meanwhile, a writ petition submitted in Sri Lanka’s Appeal Court (by the union of fishermen in northern Sri Lanka) has urged the Inspector General of Police to take necessary action against Indian fishermen entering Sri Lankan waters. This will be heard on May 5. The petition says that not just do the Indian fishermen deprive Sri Lankans of their livelihoods but damage the ecosystems and are a security threat.


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