Fishing disputes have been a constant area of concern between India and Sri Lanka. Discuss the reasons for these disputes and the measures being taken to deal with them? Also suggest ways to further mitigate the problem. (250 words)

Fishing disputes have been a constant area of concern between India and Sri Lanka. Discuss the reasons for these disputes and the measures being taken to deal with them? Also suggest ways to further mitigate the problem. (250 words)

Approach

  • Briefly introduce with the fishing problems between two nations.
  • Reasons for the problems and efforts of both the governments in resolving the problem
  • How it can be mitigated.
  • Conclude Appropriately.
Model Answer :

Sri Lanka is India’s closest maritime neighbour. In the Palk Bay, the minimum and maximum distance between the two coasts is just 16 and 45 kms. The two countries are separated by the International Maritime Boundary Line(IMBL), but often fishermen from both the sides cross over to the other side for fishing expeditions and that results in arrests, seizure of fishing vessels as well as shootings on occasions.

Reasons for dispute:

  1. One of the major reason complicating this issue is of the Katchatheevu island. The Government of India ceded the uninhabited island to Sri Lanka in 1974 under a conditional accord and recognized its sovereignty over the island. But the Tamil fishermen believe that Katchatheevu is traditionally their territory and so they have a right to fish there and Sri Lankan authorities believe that this endangers the livelihood of Sri Lankan fishermen.
  2. Due to gradual drop in fish count in the Indian waters, Indian fishermen are forced to wander into Sri Lankan waters as the catch is sufficient here.
  3. Sri Lanka is against the use of mechanised trawlers used by Indian fishermen as bottom trawling severely damages marine resources.

Steps taken by the two governments:

  • Joint working Group on fisheries to help resolve the dispute.
  • A hotline between the coast guards of both nations.
  • Government of India has launched a programme on diversification of bottom trawlers into deep sea fishing vessels for tuna long lining under the Blue Revolution scheme.
  • The Central and Tamil Nadu governments have committed to replace trawlers with deep sea vessels.
  • Confidence building measures are being taken by the visits of state level officials between both the nations.

More measures to mitigate the disputes:

  • It is important to increase the monitoring capacity in Monitoring, Control and Surveillance (MCS) system to manage the trawlers.
  • Indian government must roll out measures for the fishermen, including:
    • Buy-backs of trawlers
    • Alternative livelihoods like seaweed farming and sea-cage farming
    • Skill development
  • Fishermen co-operatives can be institutionalized
  • A resolution between both countries that if the straying fishermen are apprehended, they must be returned to their country of origin.

It is in both the nations interests to ensure peace and stability in their neighbourhood, so both countries should recognize the legitimacy of each other’s concerns and operate in a way which is mutually beneficial.

Subjects : International Relations

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