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Fishing for workable solutions in the Palk Bay

  • Published
    23rd Apr, 2022

After a gap of 15 months, the India­Sri Lanka Joint Working Group (JWG) on fisheries held its much­awaited deliberations. But between the two meetings of the JWG, a number of events some of them unfortunate have occurred in the Palk Bay region that encompasses India’s Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka’s Northern Province.

Issues

  1. Trawling as an issue- Apart from poaching in the territorial waters of Sri Lanka, the use of mechanised bottom trawlers is another issue that has become a bone of contention between the fishermen of the two countries; the dispute is not just between the two states.
  2. Extremely adverse to the marine ecology -Trawling method of fishing, which was once promoted by the authorities in India, is now seen as being extremely adverse to the marine ecology, and has been acknowledged so by India.
  3. Lack of fishing areas - At the same time, the fishermen of Tamil Nadu experience a genuine problem of the lack of fishing areas consequent to the demarcation of the International Maritime Boundary Line in June 1974.

Fisher- ­level talks

  1. Roadmap for transition- While Indian fishermen can present a road map for their transition to deep sea fishing or alternative methods of fishing, the Sri Lankan side has to take a pragmatic view that the transition cannot happen abruptly.
  2. Role of guarantors- To elicit a favourable response from the fishermen of the Northern Province, the Tamil Nadu fishermen have to commit themselves to a short and swift transition for which the governments in India ( Central and State) have to come forward to perform the role of guarantors
  3. Compensation- Also, whenever there is a genuine complaint about Tamil Nadu fishermen having damaged the properties of the Northern Province’s fishermen, the Indian government can compensate this through the proper channels of Sri Lanka.
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