India promises to phase out bottom-trawling, points to new initiatives
- India assured Sri Lanka that it would phase out bottom trawling in a “graded, time-bound manner”, pointing to upcoming initiatives to train Indian fishermen in alternative fishing methods.
- Indian fishermen would participate in a capacity building progamme in Chennai and Kochi, that seeks to train them in other, less harmful fishing practices.
- Promising to phase out bottom-trawling — a destructive fishing practice posing serious threat to marine ecosystems — within a “practicable time frame”, India also briefed the Sri Lankan side about the construction of a fishing harbour in Ramanathapuram district, home to thousands of bottom-trawlers in Tamil Nadu.
- The two countries made “significant progress” had been made in the proposal to set up a joint patrol mechanism and a hotline between coast guards of the two countries.
- No new licences are being awarded to bottom-trawlers.
- In order to deter Indian trawlers engaging in illegal fishing in Sri Lankan waters, Sri Lanka has, since 2014, been following a policy of retaining the seized trawlers, even as it swiftly releases the arrested Indian fishermen.
- Later this month, Sri Lanka’s lawmakers will discuss two bills pertaining to fisheries in parliament – one, a bill to ban mechanised bottom trawling moved by Mr. Sumanthiran, and another, a likely Foreign Fishing Vessels legislation that entails huge fines for foreign vessels fishing illegally in Sri Lankan waters.
- The Palk Bay fisheries conflict has been a lingering concern in Indo-Sri Lanka relations. The livelihoods of nearly 2 lakh people across Sri Lanka’s Tamil-speaking Northern Province are linked to the sea, and have been badly hit due to the Indian trawlers, originating from Tamil Nadu.
- While talks between fisher leaders held in 2016 proved inconclusive, the governments are trying to address problem through a Joint Working Group.