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Indian trawlers in Sri Lanka and issues associated

Topics Covered: India and its neighbourhood- relations.

Indian trawlers in Sri Lanka and issues associated

Sri Lanka’s Fishermen along the northern coast of Jaffna Peninsula, especially Point Pedro, have complained to northern Fisheries authorities about their nets being found damaged in the sea, after being caught under the large Indian trawlers that were reportedly in Sri Lanka’s territorial waters.

What’s the issue?

The Indo-Lanka fisheries conflict became a strain on the countries’ bilateral ties, with talks at the highest levels and among fisher leaders on both sides proving futile for years.

  • Main Arguments put forth by Sri Lankan fishermen are that Indian trawlers hamper their fish production and the marine habitat – scooping out marine organisms, including fishes and prawns.
  • Furthermore, their livelihoods, now under strain due to the coronavirus pandemic that has impaired exports, would be further hit by the Indian trawlers.

How Sri Lankan government is handling the situation?

In the last couple of years, Sri Lanka introduced tougher laws banning bottom-trawling, and heavy fines for trespassing foreign vessels.

  • The Sri Lankan Navy arrested over 450 Indian fishermen in 2017 and 156 in 2018 on charges of poaching.
  • A total of 210 arrests were made in 2019, while 34 have been made so far in 2020.

What is bottom trawling?

Bottom trawling is a destructive fishing practice which affects the marine ecosystem. The practice, which involves trawlers dragging weighted nets along the sea floor, is known to cause great depletion of fishery resources, and curbing it is in the interest of sustainable fishing.


India-Sri Lanka maritime boundary agreements:

Both countries signed four maritime boundary agreements between 1974 and 1976 to define the international maritime boundary between them. This was done to facilitate law enforcement and resource management in the waters since both countries are located closely in the Indian Ocean, particularly in Palk Strait.

  1. The first agreement was regarding the maritime boundary between Adam’s Bridge and the Palk Strait. It came into force on July 8, 1974.
  2. The second agreement came into force on May 10, 1976, and it defined the maritime boundaries in the Gulf of Mannar and the Bay of Bengal.
  3. India, Sri Lanka and Maldives signed an agreement for determination of the tri-junction point in the Gulf of Mannar in July 1976.
  4. In November 1976, India and Sri Lanka signed another agreement to extend the maritime boundary in the Gulf of Mannar.



Prelims Link:

  1. Palm strait.
  2. Adam’s bridge.
  3. Gulf of Mannar- significance and biodiversity.
  4. Countries in the Indian Ocean Region.
  5. Where is Point Pedro?

Mains Link:

What is bottom trawling? How it affects the biodiversity of oceans?

Sources: the Hindu.