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Indo-Shri Lankan Fisheries Conflict


When you look at these two countries they are connected culturally mythologically, and historically, culturally in terms of language Tamil is one which is connecting us. Then there is the importance of religion in the form of Buddhism and my mythologically in the form of Ramayana, which happens to be one of the greatest stories that India has told them for it with time, both these countries also got independence. They were under the control of the colonial masters and both these countries got independence in the late 1940s. What we then realize is, there wasn't an issue between India and Sri Lanka, especially that concerning fishing both the communities the Indian fishing community and the Sri Lankan fishing community had no issues when it comes to fishing rights. But after the 1970s there were certain agreements that India and Sri Lanka entered into in the year 1974. And in the year 1976, India and Sri Lanka entered into some maritime agreement. So what this led to was the establishment of the international maritime boundary line kindly note.

So immediately after independence, there were no issues between the Indian fishing community as well as the Sri Lankan fishing community. And both of them were able to fish in the Gulf of Mannar. almost seven to eight years after the conclusion of this maritime between India and Sri Lanka, there was a civil war that broke out in the year 1983. This was an internal civil war in Sri Lanka between the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and the government. So this continued up until the year 2009. So during this period of the Civil War, the Shri Lankan government immediately took certain security precautions it requested and it also prevented the Fishermen of the northern region of Sri Lanka from catching fishes in the northern part of Sri Lanka. And as a result of this, the catch of the Shri Lankan fishermen declined because they were not entering the water. But at the same time, the Indian fishermen during this very period also entered the Shri Lankan waters. So during the Civil War period, the catch of fish for the stealing con fishermen reduced and what we also see is for the Indian fishermen, it completely increased. Finally, in the year 2009, the civil war came to an end and what the Shri Lankan fishermen did, they started venturing into the northern parts of Sri Lanka. They started their fishing activity in 2009. And to their shock, they also found large Indian boats fishing on their territory. The Sri Lankan fishermen who are dependent on fishing for their own livelihood immediately converted to flight to the government of Sri Lanka. So the government of Sri Lanka did get complaints from the fishing community of Sri Lanka about the flight white because the Indian fishing community had entered into the waters of Sri Lanka.

So what happened? The Sri Lankan complained to the Sri Lankan government and the Sri Lankan government raised this particular issue with India. So the Sri Lankan government complained that Indian ships enter into the waters of Sri Lanka. These ships have trawlers they enter into the seabed of the Sri Lankan waters and they damage the entire ecosystem of the sea. So what this the Shri Lankan government complaints because of the use of the trawlers because of the use of the heavy net, it has led to the destruction of the seabed and ultimately, loss of fish, as well as the marine ecosystem. After it complained to the Government of India. It immediately started taking steps Why? Because their people were suffering, their livelihood mechanism started getting impacted and they suffered huge losses. This is where They started taking steps to prevent other foreign vessels entering the waters of Sri Lanka. First, it started imposing heavy fines, if there is a foreign vessel, which enters the water off Sri Lanka, and if they move beyond a particular boundary, then fines will be imposed on these fishing vessels followed by this. What we also see is that there was the arrest of fishermen from another country, let's say, for example, a fisherman from India into the waters of Sri Lanka, such fishermen will immediately be arrested. And periodically what we will also have is the seizure of their fishing vessel. And finally, then there will be attacked by the Sri Lankan Navy as well. So these steps mean that it is a loss to the Indian fishing community loss in terms of life's loss in terms of economic activity, and also in terms of livelihood as well. And as a result of which, what we need. is some solutions to fight this India Sri Lanka fishery conflict. So a joint working community on fishery was one of the initial steps taken by the Government of India and the government of Sri Lanka. So this joint working group basically will reduce all the disputes between the two fishing communities, then there would be a hotline which would be established by the coastal guards of both the countries. So, this joint working group will meet every three months and they will discuss the disputes between the Indian and the Sri Lankan fishing community. And there will also be a meeting between the fisheries ministries of both the countries every six months further, they have also entered into a consensus that there will be no loss of lives. So there will be an understanding between the Navy's of both the country further, India has also said in case there is an arrest of Indian fishermen or Shrilankan fishermen, we would have to consider it on a humanitarian basis such that These people should be released immediately with the protocols followed by both the countries. And India has also said the fishing community and its trawlers will be provided with the GPS monitor trackers, and they will be prevented from entering the borders of Sri Lankan water. So, what we have to realize is that the Indian community has been entering the Sri Lankan waters primarily because they did not want to go to that particular water, but they entered into this water without realizing it. And the fishing community also has been traditionally taking fishes from this particular region before independence and after the independence up until 1970. So, they did not have the idea of what the boundaries are well, and at the same time, they enter into the Shri Lankan waters, all because of the Shri Lankan means so to prevent them from entering the Shri Lankan waters, the Government of India has also said in the future GPS monitoring tools will also be provided.


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