A dialogue on Indu-Sri Lankan Fisheries issues at Palk Bay was organized by Path Finder Foundation on 24th March at IESL auditorium. The Indian fisher people crossing SL waters and damage the resources at Palk Bay area using bottom trawls and pair trawls. Sri Lanka fisher people claim this as one of the most destructive fishing practice to the natural environment, eco systems and the aquatic resources. The bottom trawling is banned in Sri Lankan waters though the Indian fishers do operate them in our waters. Also, Indian small scale fishers communities are also claim this as destructive fishing and there are lot of conflicts over resource sharing. As a result, the Indian government had agreed to allow the Indian trawler fleet to operate only 3 days of the week. Last year, Sri Lankan fisher delegation visited 4 districts of Tamil Nadu and conducted a series of dialogue and came to a consensus to have an amicable solution.
However, both Sri Lankan and Indian government did not agree to this agreement and decided find a solution through diplomatic channels.
So, the dialogue at the Path Finder Foundation was also a civil society intervention on the Indu -Sri Lanka fisheries issue. The main aim was to find solution for the issue with a dialogue of various stake holders. Prof. Oscar Amarasinghe of Ruhuna University and an advisor to the fisheries minister was the key presentor while Herman Kumara, Convener, NAFSO and Joeri Schoelten were the other two presenters at the dialogue.
Prof. Oscar presented the back ground of the issue with the agreements in the past such as 1974 and 1976 as well as during the period of SAARC. Herman Kumara presented the attempts of the CSO to solve the issue with high emphais to the Good Will Mission of Indian Fisher Delegation in 2004 and the agreement between the Indian and Sri Lankan Fisher People's in August 2010. Joeri Schoeltens presented the perspectives of Indian fisher people and the present condition of the plight of the Indian fishers.
The group focus the attention the necessity of some kind of solution of fleet reduction by Indian side either buy back system or decommissioning the fleets for sustenance of future of the small scale fisheries as well as the fishing industry.
People shared the concerns that the role of Sri Lankan navy as very important element of protect the Sri Lankan waters and the resources in it.
Every body agreed that there should be an amicable solution to the issue as India and Sri Lanka are friendly nations and can solve any problem with a dialogue.
By: Herman Kumara