By Lucien Rajakarunanayake
The Sri Lankan waters off the northern coast of the island – between India and this country – may well be the most poached fishing grounds in the world to judge by the numbers of Tamil Nadu and other South Indian fishing craft who enter this area each day. Naval observation at sea and satellite images indicate that anything from 500 to even more than 1,000 fishing craft from South India enter these water each day. They cross the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) with impunity and fish in these waters, often using trawl nets that go deep down and scour the bottom of the ocean, endangering the habitat of the fish and threatening the fish stocks in these waters.
While all this takes place with continued regularity, the South Indian media have frequent reports of complaints made by the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa Jayaram to the Indian Prime Minister urging that firm action be taken against the Sri Lankan Navy for arresting Tamil Nadu fishermen who fish in these waters. They also allege that some of those fishermen have been killed by the Navy. Tamil Nadu’s AIADMK leader Jayalalithaa who has her own political rivalries with former Chief Minister DMK’s Karunanidhi, are having a battle of their own on the question of the Sri Lankan Navy protecting this island’s own territorial waters from TN’s encroaching and poaching.
Strangely, both these politicians of TN are the loudest supporters of the Tamils of Sri Lanka, who they claim are being harassed and deprived of their rights by the Sri Lankan government.
What is clearly lost to both these leaders is the grave hardship that poaching by the TN fishermen in Sri Lankan waters cause to the Tamil fishermen in Sri Lanka’s north, whose rights they claim to defend. The obviously lack any interest in the livelihoods of these Tamil fishermen, whose fishing grounds the country’s navy is trying its best to protect from the huge flotillas of fishing craft, and large numbers of fishermen from TN that take away the catch that must be in the nets of this country’s fishermen, and also cause a major threat to the fish stocks in these waters by gross exploitation through over fishing in a rich fishing region. More....