Potential solutions to environmental conflict on exploitation of fish stocks in palk strait among fishermen of India and Sri Lanka
Central Environmental Authority, Battaramulla, LK
Environmental Impact Assessment Unit, Environmental Management and Assessment Division
Illegal catching of fish stocks beyond the borders of India and Sri Lanka by violating the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) by the fishing communities of both countries has become a major international direct environmental conflict between both nations. Overexploitation of natural resources is a keystone environmental problem. It has been reported that Indian fishermen are stealing fish catch worth many millions of US dollars annually from Sri Lankan coastal waters. The bilateral agreements of 1974 and 1976 are frequently violated. The heavy use of trawlers that are not permitted to fish on coastal seas and the use of internationally banned bottom sea nets by Indian poachers are major threats to the coastal resources of north Sri Lanka. Trawlers catch fish flocks unselectively; the catch may include several non-targeted species and juvenile stages of fish, which is leading to species extinction. Arresting and imprisoning of fishermen by coastal guards of both countries (and collecting penalties) continue, and this is an unsustainable way of handling the issue. Sri Lanka has banned bottom trawling since the 6th of July 2017, which is a sustainable solution and beseeched possible greener solutions such as creating awareness, sensitizing fishermen, and promoting the use of GPS navigation, and also provoked conventional solutions such as monitoring or patrolling, which often lead to imprisonment and penalties for trespassing and seizing of fishing trawlers. Restorative solutions such as coral restoration, mangrove restoration, implantation of artificial reefs, and establishing mutually beneficial ‘no catch zone’ along the IMBL and marine reserves (or marine protected areas) by both nations may facilitate preventing the deterioration of fish stocks and ensuring their revival in the region. Above all, if this illegal catching continues, the availability of fish stocks in the Palk Strait region in the next ten years will be in question.
How to Cite:
Sivaramanan, S., 2023. Potential solutions to environmental conflict on exploitation of fish stocks in palk strait among fishermen of India and Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka Journal of Aquatic Sciences, 28(1), pp.43–54. DOI: http://doi.org/10.4038/sljas.v28i1.7606
15 Mar 2023.