“Nearly three or more days a week, about 2000 Indian trawl boats or more are crossing the International Maritime Boundary Line to fish on the Sri Lankan side of the Palk Bay in the north. The northern fishers of Sri Lanka, who started to fish after the cruel civil war which kept them away from fishing for nearly 30 years, face strict competition from the poaching Indian trawlers, who steal their fish and damage their nets. More recently (on the 27th of February 2015) more than 80 Indian trawlers crossed the Maritime Boundary Line and started trawling near Kaddaikadu in the east coast of the Jaffna peninsula, stealing the resources of the local fishers, damaging their nets and even attacking them. They came prepared for an attack and carried arms and explosives. The levels of force used and deprivation of the rights of northern fishers of Sri Lanka are unacceptable. Both their right to fish and the right to live are violated. Enough is enough!”
On October 20, hundreds of angry fishers from south Sri Lanka protested in front of the Fisheries Ministry in Colombo against a European Union (EU) ban on seafood exports from Sri Lanka and the government’s promotion of joint ventures with East Asian fishing companies. Over the years, there have been numerous protests by Northern fishers against poaching by Indian trawlers. These are a reflection of a larger crisis in Sri Lankan fisheries; the fishers face dispossession and fear the end of their way of life.
India and Sri Lanka on Friday reiterated their commitment to finding a long term solution to the issue of Indian fishermen running into trouble with Sri Lankan authorities in the Indian Ocean.