India’s fishermen in Sri Lanka –Searches for practical solutions
Posted on August 6th, 2014

By Wendell W Solomons

An Indian newspaper published a report by P K Balachandran. The veteran reporter was discussing in the New Indian Express” of August 2nd an article placed at a Sri Lankan government website. He found the article ridiculed Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa. By association this ridicule extended northward to Indian’s PM N. Modi.

 The article had been authored by well-known Sri Lankan journalist Shenali Waduge but its intent had been skewed by a cartoon. The illustration carried the article away in a controversial and small-minded direction. The cartoon by a light-hearted artist may not have been shown to author Waduge for checking.

 This illustration’s path crossed language borders. After being seen by statesmen in several states of India it caused uproars in Lok and Rajya Sabhathat is, in both house of parliament.

 When alerted to the article the Sri Lankan government removed it from website and extended its apology to India. The picture in cross-country track had, however, caused damage to friendly relations of the two countries.

 Centuries old Indo-Sri Lanka relations extend to modern projects. They may be exemplified with this one.

 Leyland plans to export trucks to India and elsewhere

 A few days previously on July 26 P K Balachandran (the same reporter) wrote from Colombo that —

 ‘Lanka Ashok Leyland (LAL), a joint venture of Ashok Leyland of India and the Lankan public sector company, Lanka Leyland Ltd., has initiated a project to assemble small trucks in Lanka for the Indian market.’

 ‘LAL’s CEO, Umesh Gautam, told Express here on Friday that to serve the South Indian market, it will make sense to assemble such trucks in Sri Lanka and ship them to Chennai rather than supplying that market from Pantnagar in the Uttarakhand.

 The trucks will have to be brought over a distance of 2700 km. If, on the other hand, the assembly is done in Lanka and the trucks are shipped to Chennai, we can supply at one fourth the cost”, Gautam reasoned. Free trade agreements would also help reduce the cost. SAFTA will enable export of these vehicles to other South Asian countries too.’

 ‘The Lanka Ashok Leyland plant in Lanka has trained manpower. It also plans to use local products like rubber, fuel tanks, batteries and seats. The plant already has about 30 local suppliers of auto parts.’

 ‘Gautam said that the Lankan Minister of Transport had visited Ashok Leyland’s plant in Pantnagar and was convinced of the worthiness of the Lankan project.’

 The Lankan Minister would have been enthusiastic to know that through cooperation with India, Sri Lanka would export road vehicles.

 Sri Lanka currently exports a limited number of handcrafted ocean-going vessels but extending far back in history to the Silk Route of the sea, the country’s resources of tropical hardwood served dockyards that built sailing ships impervious to barnacles, insects and wood-rot.

 Fisheries sector and solutions

 A picture had set off controversy. The article had been prepared in good faith to discuss fisheries in the context of traditional relations between Colombo and New Delhi.

 After the civil war ended in 2009 Sri Lankan fishing communities had gradually moved back to their livelihood. However, when fishing off Sri Lanka’s north they found they were outnumbered in their home seas by the daily entry of Indian fishermen. More, they found that Indian vessels were using bottom trawling.

 Bans on bottom trawling exist in sectors of the Atlantic, Australian, New Zealand, Mediterranean, North American and other maritime waters. The bans arose because bottom trawling causes damage to the regeneration of fish stocks. Sri Lanka’s fishermen have made representations about this to their authorities and they observe that fishermen stray from India because trawlers have harmed fish regeneration in India. Sri Lanka’s fishermen point out in alarm that bottom trawling would spread damage from India to Sri Lanka’s sea.

 In time, natural flows would regenerate some fish stocks in India’s seas off Tamil Nadu. In the meanwhile should India’s bottom trawlers harm Sri Lanka’s fish stocks?

 The article at the Sri Lanka website had tried to address some solutions to help resolve the issue of fishermen in Tamil Nadu. Fishermen could be found remunerative work in ancillary activities.

 Institutions that could make suggestions on fisheries related ancillary activates are available all over India.

 The central fisheries research institutions, all of which operate under a council are —

 (a) the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute at Kochi,

(b) the Central Inland Fisheries Institute at Barrackpore, West Bengal;

(c) the Central Institute of Fisheries Technology at Willingdon Island near Kochi.

 Research is also done in training institutions such as the Central Institute for Fishery Education in Mumbai, which has ancillary institutions in Barrackpore, Agra (Uttar Pradesh), and Hyderabad (Andhra Pradesh). Advice can also be sought from the Central Fisheries Corporation in Calcutta which is instrumental in bringing about improvements in fishing methods, ice production, processing, storing, marketing, and constructing and repairing fishing vessels.

 For finding remunerative activity unrelated to fishing, the task could start with intimating the issue in the state sector to India’s Planning Commission and in the business sector, to India’s chambers of commerce and industry.


 The issue of the livelihoods of Tamil Nadu’s fishing families has escalated. Prevailing accord such as the Indo-Lanka Free Trade Agreement provide for structural cooperation but voices have threatened to raise flotillas and swarm Sri Lanka’s navy. Time has been lost. Practical solutions must be discovered at last.


One Response to “India’s fishermen in Sri Lanka –Searches for practical solutions”

  1. Lorenzo Says:

    Settle Sinhala fishermen in Mannar.

    Give them BIGGER BOATS & TRAWLERS and provide SLN security at sea.

    Get them to fish there.

    Or get the SLN to fish in the north using LARGE TRAWLERS. SLN can sell fish to the army, navy, air force and police which need 100 MT of fish everyday. The excess can be sold to their families.

    No fish for TN fishermen. They will soon stop wasting their time and money in SL waters. Try competing with SLN and TN fishermen will be on the bottom of the ocean.

    Problem solved!

    If someone puts a padlock on a gate used by many others, what should the others do? Put another padlock! Only then the aggressive party will come for a solution. Game theory.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.



Copyright © 2023 All Rights Reserved. Powered by Wordpress