Fishing in the Sri Lankan Northern waters resumed after restrictions on access to the sea were lifted, following the end of the civil-war in 2009. However, the northern fishermen with unused fishing gear, tattered by three decades of civil-war, were unable to mobilize themselves for fishing.
This has made it easy for the Indian fishermen for they had a field day in the Sri Lankan waters. Today, overall, the entire Gulf of Mannar is under the control of Indian fishermen three days a week. Whereas, earlier the Maritime Restriction Act imposed by the Sri Lankan Government from 1985 to 1993 restricted the Indian fishermen from entering Sri Lankan waters.
With encroachments by Indian fishermen, today the Tamil Nadu’s commercial fishing industry is generating more revenue. While it has caused loss of livelihood to our northern fishermen. As a result, even though the war is over, right to life of these fishermen remains paralyzed. They are still living with series of problems and are still unable to do fishing freely.
Today, when we look at the fishing process in the waters of Baku, the fishing industry of the southern part of India it is a roller coaster, with use of dynamite on the rise, while our fishing industry is still stuck to the ground with only their traditional fishing system.
These northern fishermen mostly use 18-23 feet long piper boats and motor boats. Also more fishermen use traditional equipment such as rafts, boats with less horsepower than the jumbo, deck nets, shrimp nets, shore nets, range nets, and long line gills.
While our southern fishermen are allowed to encroach into the northern waters to use fishing equipment that affects marine supplies such as massive roller trawlers, damaging the seabed and marine reefs, and causing conditions unfavorable at the fish breeding grounds. That is a serious threat to the marine ecosystem.
In addition, the northern waters is being plundered by using dynamite, wide-wing nets made of metal rods, narrow nets, shelter nets, etc., as these fishing system are prohibited by the government.
Initially, the intrusion of Indian fishermen into the waters limited off the coast of Nedunthivu. But today the encroachment of Indian fishermen in the waters south of the Gulf of Mannar is not only high tug boats, but also large boats. They come and stay in the Bengali village of Mannar about 7 months and use long-banned barbed wire and nets to plunder the fishery in the northern waters.
In this scenario, the Sri Lankan Minister of Fisheries will have to reconsider his unwise plan to grant permits to Indian fishermen already encroaching Sri Lankan waters. Otherwise it would certainly compound the problems of our fishermen!