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Bottom trawling that scrapes the seabed: Finding solutions to the fishery conflict. November 28,2016   |  Source: Sunday Observer

Fishermen from the coastal districts of India and Sri Lanka have used the sea around the Palk Bay and Gulf of Mannar, for traditional fishing, until the signing of the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) agreement in 1974 and 1976, which is clearly demarcated, mutually agreed upon and legally binding, separating the territorial waters of the two countries. The Tamil Nadu fishermen changed their fishing methods in the late 1970s and upgraded to steel hulled fishing vessels and engaged in bottom-trawling, to boost production. Continuous bottom trawling in the Indian side of the IMBL resulted in depleting fish stocks, and gradually, the trawlers began to cross over to the Sri Lankan side of the IMBL.
The newly introduced Indian trawlers are bigger and more powerful than the traditional craft. The Lankan fishermen found it difficult to venture into sea during the days when Indian trawlers were poaching, as they feared damage to their boats and fishing gear, as well as, safety for their lives.
During the time of conflict, Sri Lankan government was compelled to restrict fishing by local fishermen in the north and east, due to security concerns. However, the Indian trawlers continued to bottom trawl at times, venturing 2-3 nautical miles off the Lankan coast. With the end of


© Sunday Observer, 2016

Theme(s): Fisheries Development and Aquaculture.

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