A two-year jail term or a fine will be imposed on those found guilty of bottom trawling in Sri Lankan territorial waters, the government has decided. For this purpose, an amendment to the Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Act was gazetted this week. It seeks to prohibit fishing operations utilising trawl nets towed by motorised fishing [...]

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Lanka imposes jail term for bottom trawling

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A two-year jail term or a fine will be imposed on those found guilty of bottom trawling in Sri Lankan territorial waters, the government has decided.
For this purpose, an amendment to the Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Act was gazetted this week. It seeks to prohibit fishing operations utilising trawl nets towed by motorised fishing boats and the sale, import or transport of such nets and the issuance of licences.

Bottom trawling, an illegal and harmful fishing method for marine resources, uses a towing net with a cone shaped body and bag (madiya) connected to the other end to drag along the sea bed for maximum catch. The new amendment comes after several years of poaching and bottom-trawling by Indian fisherment in Sri Lanka’s waters.

The amendment sets out clearly that ‚Äúno person can engage in or cause any other person to be engaged in fishing operations utilising trawl nets, including nets without two wings or using vertical poles at the two free ends of the net, to be towed by motorised or mechanised fishing boats.‚ÄĚ
Accordingly, the Fisheries Director General, who is responsible for issuing fishing permits, cannot issue fresh licenses or renew past licences to carry out fishing using trawl nets in Lankan sea.

Meanwhile, on the same day the Sri Lankan Government published the gazette, the Tamil Nadu state government published an order detailing funding measures taken in concurrence with the Indian central government to convert Tamil Nadu fishermen’s bottom trawlers to deep-sea vessels .
As an initial phase, the Indian Central government approved Rs, 200 crore (SL Rs 2,000 million) to convert some 750 bottom trawlers to deep-sea vessels. The project is expected to begin this year.

The new development to introduce deep sea fishing as an alternative for poaching in Palk Strait came as India’s Fisheries Commissioner noted in the order that the Sri Lankan Governmnt’s frequent seizure of Indian fishing boats was causing “anxiety and insecurity” among Tamil Nadu fisher community.

During the fishermen level talks, the Indian fishermen have expressed that they are willing to diversify the trawling operations into deep sea fishing operations in a phased manner over three years, provided that the Indian government funds such a programme.

The Commissioner also noted that about 2,000 large trawl fishing boats would be replaced with new deep sea fishing gill netter cum long liner and moved out of Palk Bay in a phased manner.

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