Southern Indian Ocean: Securing a Common Fisheries policy for India and the Littoral States
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Issue Net Edition | Date : 30 Sep , 2020

The Indian Ocean provides a dependency for its Island and coastal nations on their economic and commercial prosperity. Deep sea fishing policies in  South Indian Ocean  fisheries  nations  offer excellent scope with more than 20  million population of the Indian subcontinent neighbourhood like Sri Lanka and Maldives along with India’s coastal states . Aided by a strong ocean policy founded on common strategic partnerships will be a boon to the region’s nations for their growth of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) . Therefore fisheries   as aneconomic livelihood is particularly evident in the Southern Indian Ocean coastal nations. Fisheriesgovernance, as part of a sustainable blue economy, isthus vital for the potential to boost economic growth for these neighbouring countries that share the vast expanses of sea spaces.

India’s National Fisheries Policy

The waters of the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal meet at Kanyakumari, a small coastal city in the southern tip of the country. It’s geographic location provides access to deploy sea assets in the  Gulf of Mannar and Palk Bay territory. In this way, on a more central level, Indian Blue Economy Vision of 2025 will bridle the interest for sea-food consumption in the years to come.

These people-centric ocean policies will especially benefit India’s 14 coastal states – Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, the islands of Lakshadweep, Andaman and Nicobar, and the many other villages that depend on fisheries-related activities. At present it is an ideal opportunity to reflect and amend the National Fisheries Policy that is a source of livelihood for more than  20 million fishermen and fish ranchers. This sector contributes INR 1.75 trillion every year to the national GDP.

Fisheries advancement in Sri Lanka

In the course of recent decades, Sri Lanka’s Fisheriespolicy initiatives, has fortified its emphasis on Ocean resources management. As a procedure for fisheries advancement in Sri Lanka’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), a Five-Year Fishery Development Plan was dispatched in 1979, pointed towards expanding fish production and raising the income of coastal fisherman. In Sri Lanka, over 2.7 million fishermen from 15 coastal regions rely upon fisheries for their livelihood.  They add to a yearly assessed fish catch of 530,920 metric tons accounting for 1.3 percent  of the country’s GDP.  Total number of working fishing boats in year 2016 was accounted for over 60,000.

There is ample scope of increasing production by venturing into more profound waters of the EEZ, which holds a capability of increasing of many folds   in fisheries   harnessing capacities. Sri Lanka needs to further undertake scientific research and studies of special oceanographic features of the Indian Ocean for the benefit of this sector.

Fisheries Advancement in the Maldives

Historically, Maldivian   fisheries which contributes, 11percent to the GDP of the island’s economy (FAO). It is the second biggest industry in the island country.Statistics reveal that Maldives   has an annual fish catch over 48,399 metric tons.  The reasons for the increase in fish harvest  are due to its geographical location  in the Indian Ocean  and the mechanisation of the traditional sailing boats in the mid 70s . Hence the Maldives Industrial Fisheries Company (MIFCO) plays a vital part in the island nation’s fisheries improvements. Taking the Maldivian national fisheries plans forward the Maldives Industrial Fishing Corporation (MIFCO) standardized the export oriented fisheries products.

Laws and Regulations on the Ocean

The allowable framework administering uses of the sea by individual states was classified in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in 1982 and UN Fish Stocks Agreement in 1999. The consolidated EEZ of the three neighbouring nations, India, Sri Lanka and the Maldives, could be roughly 3.887 million sq. km. Consequently, each costal state’s regional ocean limit is 200 nautical miles from its gauge known as the EEZ. Glancing back at probably the most remarkable treaties signed by the neighboring nations, the 1974 and 1976 arrangements delineating the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) between Sri Lanka and India was one of the huge discretionary grinders that reshaped India’s sea strategy with its southern neighbors. Lately, a prominent fisheries agreement for India was the Southern Indian Ocean Fisheries Agreement (SIOFA) marked in mid-2006 and upheld in 2012.

Fisheries: India and Southern Littoral States

The Indian subcontinent neighbourhood like Sri Lanka and Maldives has the most heavily utilized and impacted coastal region in the South. The neighboring Southern Indian Ocean littoral states  along with  the Indian  coastal states   must purse  a strong ocean policy based on common strategic interests.  This  could be a step in shaping the direction for a fisheries   governance framework in the Southern Indian Ocean. Hence binding this diplomacy between India Sri Lanka and the Maldives thereby  helps in securing a common fisheries policy for India and  the  littoral states.

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The views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of the Indian Defence Review.

About the Author

Dr Srimal Fernando & Vedangshi Roy Choudhuri

Dr Srimal Fernando, a recipient of the prestigious O.P Jindal Doctoral Fellowship and the SAU Scholarship under the SAARC umbrella. He is an Advisor/Global Editor of Diplomatic Society for South Africa in partnership with Diplomatic World Institute (Brussels). He is also the winner of the 2018/2019 Best Journalist of the Yearaward in South Africa, and has been the recipient of Global Communication Association (GCA) Media Award for 2016.]

Vedangshi Roy Choudhuri is pursuing. Bachelor. Of Arts (BAhons.). in. Journalism and Mass Communication at the Jindal School of Journalism & Communication (JSJC). She mainly focuses on Indo-china globe media relations. She was also a recipient of the ICASQCC. Gold Medal in Mauritius. Ms Roy is member of the SGRC at Jindal Global University and Social activist in Chennai.


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