The Indian government is planning deterrent action against Indian fishermen trawling Sri Lankan waters, finding that boats and ships from Indian side are the biggest source of confrontation with Sri Lanka, states the Times of India in a report published yesterday (22).
The decision to slap penalties and even suspend the licences of fishermen who repeatedly breach the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) stems from their refusal to heed the earlier warnings, the newspaper said.
In a bid to enforce discipline, several long-term measures may soon be put in place. Besides deterrent penalty for violators and suspension of license, India may extend the no fishing period from the current 45 to 60 days and also during monsoons. New Delhi may set up a no fishing zone straddling IMBL and India-Lanka Marine Disputes Authority.
The strong action follows a top level reality check on who is at fault in what has become a serial flashpoint between the two countries, the newspaper further said.
India is also exploring Bangalore and Puducherry as possible venues for a meeting of the fishermen's association of the two countries.
Indian Foreign minister Salman Khurshid spoke to his Sri Lankan counterpart G L Peiris last week and sought the release of 26 Indian fishermen in Colombo custody. In response, Minister Peiris asked for a meeting between the fishermen associations.
At a recent meeting chaired by Indian foreign secretary Ranjan Mathai,the view veered towards the fact that Indian fishermen were crossing the IMBL to fish in Lankan waters with impunity.The meet emphasized that Indian fishing boats were routinely transgressing the IMBL,with the Indian Navy pegging the figure at 700-900 every day.
India might take more serious measures like a ban on bottom trawling and use of monofilament and twin fold nets,which are the main culprits from the Indian side.This is not allowed in most countries,but Indian fishermen use these equipment which destroy marine ecology and stop issuing licences to new trawlers from operating in the Palk Straits and the Gulf of Mannar, the Times of India adds.