By Ridma Dissanayake
The loss incurred by Sri Lanka due to poaching by Tamil Nadu fishermen in Lankan waters has been estimated at over US$ 750 million (Rs. 97,500 million) annually, Sri Lanka Sea Food Exporters’ Association Chairman Roshan Fernando said.
He said the encroachment of Indian trawlers into Northern waters denies fishermen of their fish harvest depriving them of their livelihood. Fernando emphasised this to Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne during a meeting at the ministry.
Association members conveyed to the minister their concern over the continuing illegal incursion of South Indian trawlers into Sri Lanka’s territorial waters in the Palk Bay, Gulf of Mannar and Bay of Bengal.
The daily transgression of South Indian trawlers contravenes the bilateral Maritime Agreement signed between Sri Lanka and India in 1974 and disregards Sri Lanka’s concerns for the sustainable management of marine resources.
“Moreover, bottom trawling used by South India trawlers destroy Sri Lanka’s marine resources and damage the marine ecosystem. Bottom trawling is an extremely destructive and enormously wasteful form of fishing, banned by the Fisheries Ministry in Sri Lanka waters,” Fernando said.
Association members also expressed gratitude to Minister Senaratne for the action taken to resolve the dispute between Indian trawler owners and Northern fishermen.