Tamil Nadu anti-Sri Lanka antics all about hiding the massive fish plunder
Posted on March 16th, 2013

– Kumar Moses

 Tamil Nadu, the Tamil homeland, is on fire over India’s stand on Sri Lanka at UN Human Rights Council. Both main political parties DMK and AIADMK are competing with each other to pressurize the Indian central government to vote against Sri Lanka at the UNHRC. At the same time Tamil Nadu illegal fishermen poach tonnes of fish from Sri Lankan waters in the north. This entire campaign of plunder is financed by the Tamil Diaspora that used to fund the now defunct LTTE to the tune of $300 million a year (Jane’s Defence Weekly). LTTE (the most ruthless terrorist group in the world according to the FBI) was eradicated in 2009 by highly disciplined Sri Lankan security forces.

LTTE-Tamil Nadu Understanding

From 1983 to 2009 the northern seas of Sri Lanka were infested with LTTE Sea Tiger terrorists that denied local Sri Lankan fishermen from going to sea. Making use of the opportunity, Tamil Nadu fishermen fished in Lankan waters with the blessings of the LTTE. However, after 2009 local fisheries industry was revived and Sri Lankan Tamil fishermen from the north restarted their lives and livelihood. This meant competition for Tamil Nadu illegal fishermen who for 26 long years were used to poaching fish from Sri Lankan waters at will. Clashes erupted and it went up to diplomatic levels.

Since 1983 marine fishing has expanded exponentially in Tamil Nadu making use of the disruption to fishing in Sri Lanka. Today it is a major industry in Tamil Nadu engaging over half a million people directly and a very powerful political tool. Coastal electorates of Tamil Nadu are highly volatile and the party that controls them will have an easy run at the polls. That is why all major Tamil Nadu political parties are vying for control in coastal areas.

This presentation by Madras School of Economics page 17 shows how deep sea fish (pelagies) catch has changed over the years in Tamil Nadu.


There is an inverse relationship between peace in northern Sri Lanka and the catch of deep sea fish by Tamil Nadu fishermen.

From 1985 to 1987 marine fish catch of Tamil Nadu increases as Sri Lanka’s war escalates. Then it plateaus from 1987 to 1990 when there was some relative peace in the northern seas with Indian army in Jaffna. Once again war broke out in 1990 to 1992 and Tamil Nadu fishermen again had a field day. After the killing of President Premadasa, war in northern areas reduce and Tamil Nadu fish catch also reduces. After 1995 war escalates to a peak in 1997 and Tamil Nadu fishermen increase their deep sea catch. In 2001 clashes stop until 2005 and Tamil Nadu fish catch reduces.

Therefore it is obvious Tamil Nadu fishermen want war in Sri Lanka so their catch increases. This is why this problem has reached its climax today. Peace in Sri Lanka means lower fish catch for Tamil Nadu fishermen. This is why they want to restart hostilities.

Today Tamil Nadu illegal fishermen not only poach fish from Sri Lanka but also clash with the nation’s navy, fishermen and escalate the problem to a diplomatic dispute between the two nations. Tamil Nadu politicians make use of the dispute to push their political demands. Sri Lanka is in a lose-all situation in relation to this episode “”…” fish, livelihood of Tamil fishermen in the north, peace in the territorial waters and diplomatic cordial relations with India.

The size of the loot

Annual fish plunder by Tamil Nadu poachers from Sri Lankan waters is approximately 95,000 tonnes. In other words, Tamil Nadu poachers deprive Sri Lankans their resources at a staggering rate of 95,000 tonnes of fish per year.


According to the Sri Lankan Defence Secretary, 1,400 illegal Tamil Nadu fishing boats enter Sri Lanka every day. This makes this the world’s worst fish plunder by any standard.


However, in September 2012, India’s Hindu newspaper said that records obtained from the Indian government indicated that between January and June 2012, Indian trawlers crossing into Sri Lanka numbered 20,662. Damage caused by trawlers is much more than fishing boats.


Tamil Nadu marine fisheries depend on poaching

However, what doesn’t transpire at a mere glance is that Tamil Nadu marine fishing industry depends on poaching. This is why India is reluctant to stop its own citizens poaching fish at the rate of 95,000 tonnes a year. Out of all coastal districts of Tamil Nadu, the largest marine fish producing district is Ramanathapuram which is the closest Tamil Nadu district to the Mannar fish basin! Next largest marine fish producing districts are Nagapattinam, Tiruvarur, Thanjavur and Pudukkottai. They are the next closest to the Mannar Basin and the fishing fields close to Point Pedro of Sri Lanka!

Together these districts produce 54% of Tamil Nadu total marine fish.

TN District Marine Fish tonnes Percentage
Ramanathapuram                        78,541


Nagapattinam, Tiruvarur, Thanjavur                        78,082


Pudukkottai                        54,054


Tuticorin                        46,359


Kanyakumari                        37,409


Chennai                        31,850


Cuddalore                        30,503


Villupuram                        10,731


Kancheepuram                        10,570


Tirunelveli                          8,623


Thiruvallur                          6,540


Total                     393,262


Source: 2007 marine fish production by district, Commissioner of Fisheries, Chennai


Riches of this massive poaching network end up in the coffers of DMK and AIADMK. This money goes into finance separatism in the form of TESO (Tamil Elam Supporters Organization).

Why this world’s worst fish plunder cannot be prevented

India knowingly allows this plunder to continue. So far India has not taken any effective measure to stop this violation of territory of Sri Lanka by Indians. Therefore it is foolish to depend on the Indian government to take any meaningful action to stop it. Tamil Nadu government and all other political groups are determined to continue poaching.

Sri Lankan navy has been highly disciplined in dealing with Tamil Nadu poachers. However, their goodwill was not reciprocated by Tamils from Tamil Nadu. Sri Lanka Navy has been unable to contain the situation.

Tamil National Alliance (TNA) is the most popular political party in Jaffna and Vanni districts with the highest number of seats in parliament from these districts. However, it is not interested in the livelihoods of Sri Lankan fishermen from the north “”…” all of them Tamils. Fisher folk of the Tamil majority north have flocked around the Elam People’s Democratic Party (EPDP) which is a coalition partner of the ruling United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA). However, EPDP has only 2 seats in parliament compared to 14 for TNA. To make matters worse, TNA, Tamil Nadu and Tamil Diaspora Triangle of Evil have entered into a pact to continue plunder of Sri Lankan fishing resource, support Tamil separatism and agitate against Sri Lanka.

No other nation cares about this world’s worst fish plunder.

Options available to Sri Lanka

The best option available to Sri Lanka is to encourage more and more Sri Lankan fishermen of all ethnic groups to fish in the Mannar Basin using trawlers. Unless Sri Lankans use their own resource, Indian poachers will grab it. Sri Lanka navy must also engage in fishing as the Sri Lanka army runs model farms. Unless Sri Lanka puts its resources to productive use, there is nothing stopping Tamil Nadu illegal fishermen poaching the resource.

If that cannot be done, there is nothing that can be done to save this resource and put to good use of locals. It will be plundered by Tamil Nadu fishermen until the fishing resource is totally destroyed.

However, there is a bigger danger of continuing encroachment of Tamil Nadu fishermen in to Lankan waters. It is a violation of territorial waters of Sri Lanka, it may extend to piracy, illegal transport of goods including weapons into the island, a cause of clashes between local fishermen and Tamil Nadu fishermen and ultimately an ugly diplomatic row between India and Sri Lanka. In fact the aim of Tamil Nadu politicians is to create such a diplomatic row between the two nations so that they can push their racist demands. Recently the Indian Ministry of External Affairs summoned the Sri Lankan High Commissioner over arrest of some Tamil Nadu fishermen by the Sri Lanka navy. Considering all these and the inability to control the situation, it is worthwhile to ponder the usefulness of the Mannar Basin fish resource. Is it really a resource or a curse? As at now it is a curse and certainly not a resource the destruction of which actually favours Sri Lankan interests in diplomacy, defence, territorial integrity and naval operations. If Tamil Nadu illegal fishermen continue to use bottom trawler fishing and other plunder tactics, this fish resource will disappear soon anyway. The least Sri Lanka can do is not to disturb them and help them dig their own grave. Otherwise this will be the main weapon of Tamil separatists to push India against the island nation. With Tamil Nadu elections looming ugly next year, there is little hope of any easing of the situation. Their ultimate goal is to use this ever escalating and never ending diplomatic dispute to demand India recognize Tamil Elam through TESO activities.

2 Responses to “Tamil Nadu anti-Sri Lanka antics all about hiding the massive fish plunder”

  1. Lorenzo Says:

    Do you think Tamils will EVER take medicine to heal the beggar’s wound?

  2. S de Silva Says:

    Thanks Kumar for the facts and figures. We need to militarily patrol our maritime border and at the same time give protection to our fisherman and support an expanded fishing fleet to exploit the marine resources. GoSL has to draw up the necessary legislation, in compliance with the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) warnings and formally inform India via the UN that all violations will be severely dealt with – S de Silva – London

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