Universities Address the Concerns of Post-War Northern Fishing Communities and the Palk Bay Indian Trawler Problem

The Universities of Jaffna and Ruhuna co-organised an international workshop on the challenges facing the long suffering fishing communities in Northern Sri Lanka. The workshop discussed the findings of a two year long research project on the Palk Bay fishing problem with the partnership of the University of Jaffna, University of Ruhuna, the Madras Institute of Development Studies and the University of Amsterdam. The workshop on this issue of national importance was inaugurated by Prof. Vasanthi Arasaratnam, Vice Chancellor, University of Jaffna and Prof. Susirith Mendis, Vice Chancellor, University of Ruhuna, and drew the participation of administrators, academics, researchers and representatives of the fishing community.

The primary focus of the workshop was to address the economic devastation facing the Northern Sri Lankan fishing community. This community, which was unable to go to the seas during the war, continues to suffer from the impact of Indian trawlers on Northern waters. Great financial losses due to the destruction of fishing nets and inability to go to sea when trawlers are present, as well as serious damage to ecological resources were all issues discussed at the workshop.

Fisher leaders of Northern Sri Lanka have voiced appreciation of this inter-university effort to address the Indian Trawler problem, with which they have been grappling since the end of the war. The workshop underlines the importance of multi-disciplinary research and multi-tiered dialogue for generating appropriate solutions. This initiative appeals to the Governments of Sri Lanka and India, academics, opinion makers and all relevant actors to address the issue with urgency.

For further information and interviews please contact Prof. A. S. Soosai, University of Jaffna, Phone: 0770842761.