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Fishing in Turbulent Waters

Sumith Chaaminda

Working Paper No: 02 August 2012

Fishing in Turbulent Waters


This paper explores the relationship between development and ethnic reconciliation in post-war Sri Lanka. The Sri Lankan government espouses the view that economic development can address ethnic reconciliation through reducing disparities in the distribution of economic and livelihood opportunities. Using the fishing industry in the Northern and Eastern provinces as a case-study, the author assesses the extent to which the governments development initiatives have contributed towards reducing ethnic tensions in the war affected areas. This paper argues that, rather than opening new avenues towards ethnic reconciliation, the governments post-war development strategy has led to an increased asymmetry in the distribution of the benefits of economic growth between ethnic communities. Whilst, the Northern fishing communities have received a certain amount of technical and resource assistance, the government has failed to adequately address the vast (economic, educational and technological) disparities that exist between Northern fishing communities and their competitors from the Southern provinces and South India. This has resulted in the (actual and/or perceived) reinforcement and reproduction of existing social hierarchies and power relation as well as the emergence of new forms of suppression and inequality.

Sumith Chaaminda is a Research Associate at the International Centre for Ethnic Studies

ICES Working Paper series: 2

Fishing in Turbulent Waters

Sumith Chaaminda

International Centre for Ethnic Studies August 2012


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2012 International Centre for Ethnic Studies 2, Kynsey Terrace, Colombo 8 Sri Lanka E-mail: admin@ices.lk URL: http://ices.lk/ ISBN: 978-955-580-131-7 Printed By: Karunaratne and Sons

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Acknowledgements
My interest in analyzing post-war development discourse has been shaped by various conversations at different conjunctures with Dr. Nishan de Mel, Dr.Nirmal Ranjith Devasiri, Mr. Ahilan Kadirgamar, Ms. Chulani Kodikara, Ms. Lakmali Jayasinghe and Ms. Nethra Samarawickrema. I would also like to thank Prof. Jayadeva Uyangoda, who made insightful comments on the first draft of this piece, and Dr. Soosai whoe shared with us, his expertise on the changing dynamics of fishing industry in Jaffna. My research assistant, Thiyagaraja Waradas made a significant contribution to this project not only in organizing field visits and interviews but also in generating new arguments and ideas. Ms. Begum Rahman and Ms. Vishalinee also supported me by translating and transcribing interviews and collecting secondary data. My thanks also go to Mr. Lewis Garland who did an excellent job in copy editing and in preparing an abstract for this paper. Geethika Dharmasinghe, Vidarshana Kannangara and my colleagues of Praxis Collective engaged with me in some interesting discussions that enriched this paper in terms of identifying politically articulated form(s) of development discourse in the post-war context. Finally, I would thank all the staff members of the ICES who did their best to make this publication possible. Sumith Chaaminda August 2012

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Acronyms and Abbreviation


District Fisheries Exchange Office Eelam Peoples Democratic Party High Security Zone Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam National Aquatic Resources Research and Development Agency Tamil National Alliance United National Party United States of America United Nations DFEO EPDP HSZ LTTE NARA TNA UNP USA UN

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1. Kodikara,Chulani (2012), Only Until the Rice is Cooked?: The Domestic Violence Act, Familial Ideology and Cultural Narratives in Sri Lanka, ICES Working Paper 1, May 2012

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Fishing in Turbulent Waters

Fishing in Turbulent Waters

Introduction
Newly initiated development projects in the Northern and Eastern Provinces in post-war Sri Lanka are expected to open new avenues towards ethnic reconciliation, as proclaimed not only by government media but also by the mainstream development scholarship. However, this popular emphasis on reconciliation through development arguably fails to recognize the barriers and obstructions existing within, what we will refer to as, the development highway. These obstacles are particularly acute for ethnic minority communities. To understand the possible repercussions of the current development-community encounter, one should turn ones ears not only to the subject-agents of the development discourse but also to those who are subjected to the development industry, considering the fact that subalterns are also involved in creating meanings or counter-articulating the dominant discourse. This paper explores the ways in which the local communities in the Northern fishing villages receive the messages enunciated by the dominant or official discourse of development. It also analyses how these communities counter-articulate meanings of development, asking how does this community-development encounter affect the wider problem of post-war ethnic and social reconciliation? The paper is based on a field study of the fishing industry in the Jaffna peninsula, with a particular focus on the encounter between the local communities in Northern Sri Lanka and the development discourse in the post-war context. It examines how the social situations in the war affected regions have increasingly been identified as development problems as a means of justifying development focused interventions. By critically analyzing the priorities in development plans and the problems related to implementing those plans, the paper also inquires as to whether local livelihood issues are being adequately addressed by the recently initiated development projects. Finally, we turn our attention to the perceptions and possible counter-articulations of development by the fishing communities in the Jaffna peninsula. The main objective of the paper is to develop a critical engagement with the dominant development paradigm to post-war social reconciliation

Conceptualizing Development as a Discourse of Power and Control


In order to understand the multiple problems associated with the local community development encounter, discourse analysis, as applied in Development Studies by scholars like Auturo Escobar, may be considered a valid approach( Escobar, 1995). In the approach of development discourse analysis, the politically articulated nature of development has become a
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significant field of research. The political dimensions of antagonism, power and hegemony within mainstream development discourse were initially highlighted by critical development studies scholars who were critical of two strands of modernization theory; liberalism and Marxism. Both liberalism and Marxism were based on the assumption that postcolonial countries in the non-Western world were in a process of transformation from traditional to modern societies. According to some dominant trends of Marxism, advanced industrial countries show backward countries the image of their future form of development'(Agnew, 1987). The basic assumption of modernization theory is that development with capitalist modernity should be externally introduced or supported in non-Western societies that lack the internal dynamics, which are favorable for development (W. Rostow 1960; Lipset 1959), This approach was challenged by various new developments in the social sciences, especially since the theoretical revolution in the 1960s; dependency School started a new debate on capitalist underdevelopment in the peripheral countries (Baran, 1957; Frank, 1967), while postcolonial studies challenged the Euro-centric universalistic assumptions in modern social sciences including development studies (Said 1978; Spivak 1990; Fanon 2004). Some of the significant themes introduced by this debate were the role of political agents/actors in altering the status quo, importance of politics, power and ideology, and different articulations of democracy and development in peripheral social formations. As a result of this important epistemological shift, the scholarly attention was turned away from mere economistic understandings of development towards a broader societal and political understanding of development. Interestingly, new understandings of development emerged within critical scholarly trends. These resulted in the development of new practices and institutional arrangements in the development field. Participatory development and sustainable development became central themes in development practices in peripheral countries; the Right to development was formally accepted by the UN Charter in 1986; development became an object of study among non-economists including anthropologists, political scientists and sociologists; The theory of social capital that emphasized the significance of social relations and networks in economic development had a huge policy impact even within the World bank. In the 1990s, Amartya Sen made an important contribution to transcending the disciplinary boundaries between politics and economics by articulating development as freedom (Sen 1999). Arturo Escobars thesis of post-development (Escobar 1995) is arguably the most critical approach developed within development studies because it questions some of the fundamental assumptions of the current day dominant development paradigm. Escobar argues that development should be considered as a discourse, which cannot be separated from political contestation for power and hegemony.
It was rather the result of the establishment of a set of relations among these elements, institutions, and practices and of the systematization of these relations to form a whole. And the development discourse was constituted not by the array of possible objects under its domain but by the way in which it was able to form systematically the objects of which it

Fishing in Turbulent Waters


spoke, to group them and arrange them in certain ways, and to give them a unity of their own. To understand development as discourse, one must look not at the elements themselves but at the system of relations established among them. It is this system that allows the systematic creation of objects, concepts, and strategies; it determines what can be thought and said. These relations established between institutions, socio-economic processes, forms of knowledge, technological factors and so on- define the conditions under which objects, concepts, theories, and strategies can be incorporated into the discourse (Escobar 1995:40).

This hegemonic discourse, he argues, emerged and was consolidated in the early post-WorldWar-Two period, as a result of the problematization of poverty in under-developed countries by the global economic and political powers (Escobar 1995: 17-18). The construction of social identities, inclusion and exclusion of certain communities, employing power over human bodies, fashioning and refashioning the body politic are all strategies employed by proponents of the hegemonic development discourse. In development projects men and women are objectified, classified, and given identities so that they can be subjected to certain mechanisms of governance. The hegemonic approach of developmentalism, when it is applied in the countries of the Global South, has tended to marginalize indigenous social and cultural processes, local knowledge and experiences. Escobar argues that we need alternatives to development other than development alternatives (Escobar 1995). Although there has been minimal application of the discourse analysis approach in the Sri Lankan context, the political aspects of development have not completely been ignored by social science studies in Sri Lanka, at least since the 1980s. Newton Gunasinghe and Sunil Bastian have explored how economic liberalization of the 1980s went hand in hand with widening tensions amongst ethnic communities (Gunasinghe, 1996; Bastian and Luckam, 2003). Serena Tennekoon has analyzed the reinforcement of ethno-nationalist ideologies within the Mahaweli development project, re-initiated by the UNP regime which came into power in 1977 (Tennakoon 1988). Darini Rajasingham-Senanayake and Dhammika Herath have analyzed, in different contexts, the relevance of social capital in the development of the Northern and Eastern provinces (Senanayake 2003; Herath 2008). Kalinga Silva has contributed to this scholarship by analyzing the inter-connectivity between armed conflict, displacement and poverty trends (Silva 2003). Sunil and Nicola Bastian have analyzed development and participation and their role in social reconciliation (Bastian and Bastian, 1996); James Brow has conducted an interesting anthropological study on the production of conflictual dynamics in a rural community by a development project in the village named Kukulewa in the Dry Zone of Sri Lanka (Brow 1990). Although all of the aforementioned studies have explored certain political dimensions of development in the Sri Lankan context, development as a political discourse in the post-war context is yet to be examined and analyzed comprehensively. Nalani Hennayakes analysis of the difference between the official discourse of developmentalism and what she has termed the indigenous discourse of development in Sri
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Lanka is useful but needs to be further explored (Hennayake 2006). She argues that an indigenous discourse of development, which was contradictory to the official discourse, emerged in postcolonial Sri Lanka. However, one can also argue that these two approaches are complementary rather than contradictory. It is also debatable whether this indigenous discourse has its roots in a pre-colonial past or, as many postcolonial scholars suggest, whether it was retroactively produced by the postcolonial modernity itself. The relationship between state, ethno-nationalism and development as a political strategy has not been sufficiently considered in Hennayakes analysis. This paper examines how politics, power and hegemony work within the development discourse in post-war Sri Lanka, through a case study on the fishing industry in the Northern and Eastern Provinces of the country. The status of the fishing industry in post-war Sri Lanka provides an important case to explore the political dimensions of development because it is situated within an important historical conjuncture where Tamil separatism led by the LTTE has been militarily defeated, paving the way for the Colombo based state to re-establish and consolidate its power and hegemony over the communities living in Northern and Eastern Provinces. What role has development played in the consolidation of state power and in ensuring inter-ethnic reconciliation since the end of thirty years of ethnic war? To answer this question we must examine the political dimensions present within the development industry in Sri Lanka since independence. The paper commits to fill this knowledge gap.

Contextualizing the Study


Although the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka was initially based less on economic and more on political issues, there is no doubt that state-centric development policies have played a crucial role in sharpening tensions amongst ethnic minorities. The agrarian colonization project in the dry zone, which was widely criticized for its ethnic bias, coincided with the emerging ethnonationalist rift within the indigenous elite power blocs in the 1930s. In its formative years, the postcolonial Sinhalese ruling bloc, with the leadership of D.S Senanayake, established new agrarian colonies in the Northern and Eastern provinces, changing the ethnic composition of those areas in favor of the Sinhalese (Peebles 1990) This may be considered the first instance in which local communities encountered macro level development initiatives propagated by emerging indigenous rulers. This strongly suggests that the uneven distribution of development benefits between different ethnic communities has been a crucial issue since the dawn of national development. Many Sinhalese dominated electorates in these areas were created by the intervention of delimitation commissions, which were also criticized for their ethnic bias. Uneven distribution of economic wealth among different ethnic groups took a newer form with the initiation of large scale national development projects by the government of Mrs.
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Fishing in Turbulent Waters

Bandaranaike in the early 1960s. This marked the beginning of an import-substitution economic policy in which state-owned capital played a significant role. Within this policy framework state patronage politics became a central aspect in society, given that the state was not only a political institute but also a primary economic entrepreneur. This was not an isolated phenomenon in Sri Lanka but a worldwide process which the Regulation School of International Political Economy terms, the Keynesian regime of accumulation1. In the way in which the Keynesian model was practiced in Sri Lanka, distribution patterns were designed according to patron-client relationships between politicians and voters, which were mostly beneficial for the ethnic and religious majority. Another important aspect of this process was that it favored the ethno-religious majority through the state control of public sector jobs and higher education opportunities. As a result of the implementation of the Sinhala only policy in 1956, the percentage of Tamil speaking employees was decreased. Sri Lanka entered into a new paradigm of development in the late 1970s, with the introduction of economic liberalization policies in 1977 by the newly elected UNP Government under President J.R Jayewardena; since then, ethnic inequality with regard to distributing development benefits acquired a new form. Even within the liberalization agenda, the role played by the state in the economy and related patronage structures were not decisively changed. Liyanage explains the political economic transformation in the late 1970s in Sri Lanka as a transformation from the model of state-led welfarism to a state-led neo-liberal model (Liyanage 1977). Interestingly, within the state-led macro development projects initiated in the 1980s such as the accelerated Mahaweli project, political patronage remained a central aspect of economic life. At the same time, Sinhalese-Buddhist ethno-nationalism remained the hegemonic ideology, acquiring a new significance against the background of the emerging ethnic civil war between the Sinhalese dominant state and the Tamil separatists. It is also important to highlight that, while championing a neo-liberal economic reform agenda, President Jayewardene made use of Sinhalese patriotism and Buddhist ideologies in order to win popular support (Kemper 1990). In fact in the Sri Lankan case the economic liberalization agenda and national patriotism have often gone hand in hand, although seldom without tensions and contradictions. The heightening ethnic tensions against the background of economic liberalization in the 1980s imply that the development disparities between ethnic groups were not weakened by new economic policies. As Newton Gunasinghe and Sunil Bastian have pointed out in different contexts, the way in which economic liberalization functioned in Sri Lanka in the 1980s facilitated the heightening of ethnic tensions amongst Sinhalese, Tamil and Muslim communities (Gunasinghe 1996; Bastian et al 2003) Thus
1 Theoreticians of Regulation School use the term regime of accumulation to explain how production, circulation, consumption and distribution patterns are organized in certain ways that stabilize the economy over a period of time. The Keynesian regime of accumulation was the dominant economic model during the 1930s and the early 1970s (Aglietta, 1976).

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hegemonic Sinhalese-Buddhist ethno-nationalist ideologies have been working on the dominant development discourse throughout the 1980s, as Serena Tennakoon highlights in her study on the accelerated Mahaweli Development project (Tennakoon,1988). Against this background, it is important to examine how development is being articulated in post-war Sri Lanka and how it affects ethnic relations, especially in the war affected areas. During the last phase of the war, the government introduced two main development projects in the Northern and Eastern provinces, Uthuru Wasanthaya (Northern Spring) and Negenahira Navodaya (Eastern Revival). These were officially described as steps towards social reconciliation through economic development and as a solution to the conflict. It is important to question the extent to which these new development initiatives have contributed towards reducing ethnic tensions through reconstructing peoples livelihoods in the war affected areas and addressing the crucial issues regarding uneven regional development, It is also necessary to ask whether development remains a contributing factor to ethnic tensions among different communities? These problems are worth exploring against the background where, after defeating the LTTE, the government approaches development not only as an economic imperative for social reconciliation but also as a solution to the conflict. In some public speeches given by senior government representatives, development has also been defined as a strategy through which to prevent the reemergence of any sort of separatist struggle similar to that fought by the LTTE. In the political economic perspective, it is also interesting to note that, through development, the Northern and Eastern provinces have been opened not only for the consolidation of state power but also for the spread of financial capital; it should be kept in mind here that these areas were minimally touched by economic liberalization when compared with the Southern provinces.

Fishing Communities in the North Affected by the War


The fishing industry, being the primary livelihood of a large number of the population in the Jaffna Peninsula was one of the economic sectors worst affected by the thirty years ethnic civil war. Before the war, Jaffna was the largest fishing production district, contributing around 48,000 metric tons per year; almost one fourth of the total production of the country. However, fish production in Jaffna was severely hampered by the war. While the Jaffna District alone provided 20%-25% of the total fish production in Sri Lanka before 1983, its contribution was reduced to 3%-5% by the end of the third Eelam war (Siluvaithasan & Stokke 2006: 240). The annual fish production in the District numbered around 2000 metric tons during the war. Although fish production has been recovered to some extent in the two years after the war, it remains a long way from pre-war levels.

Fishing in Turbulent Waters

year
1951 1961 1971 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010

Fish Production (MT)


Mannar 9200 4309 9117 13175 9745 8685 7825 8246 8246 8567 8694 9050 6299 1783 1225 2300 3510 3800 3850 4100 4547 4600 4600 4758 6083 6066 8747 N.A 8428 N.A 5734 6578 10057 Jaffna 4351 11935 16364 43797 N.A 48677 23157 23775 13053 1981 24702 25078 21639 1191 1327 1514 3102 2263 1540 2762 2428 3232 2211 2676 5311 21206 21310 15157 13431 2963 2670 11978 20739

Source: DFEO, Jaffna and Mannar, 2010

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It is very clear that, in the post-war era, the fishing industry in Jaffna and the Northern Province as a whole is now facing a series of new challenges, given the increasing competition in the sea with Indian trawlers and Southern fishermen who are technically more sophisticated than the Northern fishers. One of the negative affects of the war on the Northern fishing communities was that it was placed in an unfavorable situation in the structure of uneven development. Their competitors South Indian and Sri Lankan Southern fishermen- have been able to obtain more advanced economic and technological capacities much quicker and have therefore increased production at a much faster rate

Characteristics of the Current Development Approach


It is true that the government has resolved a number of technical issues related to post-war reconstruction of livelihoods. Restrictions on fishing have been significantly reduced with the removal of high security zones, and as a result, the monthly production has been increasing; a new office for fisheries issues named District Fisheries Exchange Office (DFEO) has opened; transport facilities have been developed through governments infrastructure development projects; for instance the newly constructed Mannar Bridge, Thalladi Bridge and road developments in the coastal areas have benefited the fishing communities and encouraged merchants in other areas to expand their market relationships with Jaffna. As part of the reconstruction and development of these areas, , the government has distributed certain means of production such as fishing nets and established some new fishing villages. However, questions remain as to whether these development initiatives have given enough priority to the livelihood issues of the area. The following quotation from a fishing community leader in the area highlights many gaps between the expectations of the community and the government's development approach.
They have opened the sea for fishing and relaxed some restrictions like the pass system. Now many people can fish any time. But the government has not yet completely removed High Security Zones. Anyway, now our monthly production is increasing. Although some fishermen are allowed to go fishing in their own places, it is not always the case. Coolers are now coming from the South and the transport facilities also are developing. Export items like prawns, cuttlefish are increasing and fishermen are earning much money only from these export items. At the same time the government has introdroduced laws regarding illegal fishing, although they are not implemented well. They have provided some of us some nets. New fishing villages and coastal roads also are being constructed. It is true that they do certain

Fishing in Turbulent Waters things here and there but many of these development activities are not on the concerns of fishing communities2

The above statement draws our attention to a very significant problem not only in relation to post-war development in Sri Lanka but also to the dominant development thinking as a whole; to what extent have the perspectives of the communities been taken into account in development planning and implementation? It also highlights the need for a broader approach that can address not merely isolated, context specific issues, but also structural problems with regard to community development. Any initiative looking in this direction must recognize that the perspectives and development priorities of the community are crucial.

Regional and other Forms of Disparity


Interestingly, community leaders who were interviewed for this study prioritized and highlighted the structural issues rather than the isolated issue faced by them in their day-today life. The unfavorable conditions faced by the Northern fishermen in the competition for limited resources in the sea are central to their explanations of the current situation. There is no doubt that the most crucial issue in their perspective is the 'encroaching' of the SouthIndian fishermen and Sri Lankan Southern fishermen into the Northern Sea. Illegal fishing in the Northern Sea by Indian fishermen who own sophisticated Trawler boats, popularly known as 'the Indian Trawler Issue, has become the most disturbing problem for the Northern fishing community. The following map explains the scale of the Indian Trawlers entering into the traditional fishing areas of the Sri Lankan Northern inhabitants. According to leaders of Jaffna fishing organisations, more than three hundred Indian Trawler boats are entering into the Sri Lankan Sea at least three days a week. The Northern fishermen who are not capable in competing with the technologically sophisticated Indian fishermen lose almost all harvest within those three days. One fisherman articulating their grievances said, Our people not only lose their earnings but their resources also; our people who dont use sophisticated methods cannot even protect their nets from these Indian Trawlers; sometimes, Indians are deliberately cutting our nets3.

2 Interview with the president of fishermen society of Myliddy, Jaffna on 12.11.2011. The interview was carried out by the author and Mr. T. Waradas, the research assistant of the project. 3 Interview with Karainagar Fishermen Society president in Jaffna on 11.11.2011, which was carried out by the author and Mr. T. Waradas.

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Source: (Soosai 2004: 19)

In a news paper interview, the President of the Jaffna District Fisheries Cooperatives Federation, S. Tavaratnam has explained that:
Security restrictions on fishing have been somewhat lifted. Yet, we do not have the necessary facilities to carry out our livelihood. The fishermen in Jaffna are faced with a great problem. The problem is that Indian fishermen encroach into our seas and forcibly take away resources of our fishermen. About 2,000 Indian fishing boats enter our waters at one time. Our fishing activities came to a standstill during the war. The Indian fishermen have poached in our waters for about 20-30 years. When fish become less in their waters, their officials have themselves asked them to come to our waters. They did it for 20-30 years. Not only the fish, but the natural resources in our waters have also been destroyed. These resources cannot be replaced. It takes a long time for them to develop. The Indian fishermen are continuing with it. No one is taking any measures to stop it. This is one of our biggest problems (Tavaratnam in The Sunday Leader, 2010)

Competition with Southern Fishers in unequal terms: Another important issue highlighted by the Northern fishing community is the abundance of Southern fishermen who
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Fishing in Turbulent Waters

practice seasonal fishing in the Northern Sea with sophisticated technologies and multi-day boats. In the early 1980s, Northern fishermen were more highly advanced than Southern Fishermen in terms of their technological development and economic wellbeing. However, this has been reversed during the period of war. As a consequence, the fishing community in the war affected areas is now forced to compete on unequal terms with Southern fishermen who are traveling to the North from Matara and Negombo areas. The Southern fishermen who enter into the Mannar area are using temporary shelters and staying in the area for up to six months. This, in fact, it is no longer seasonal fishing. In the past they would stay in areas like Mannar, Silawathutai and Thalai Mannar and sometimes engage in sea side fishing rather than coastal fishing. According to Point Padro fishermen, the multi-day boats or trip boats are coming not only from Negombo but also from distant areas like Matara and Beruwala. It is very clear that this competition in the sea is mostly beneficial for Southern fishermen. One fisherman in Karainagar explained the impact of the arrival of Southern fishermen to the North as follows;
Earlier, sometime when we were unable to catch enough fish, we were satisfied with catching at least two conches; one conch was worth more than 800 rupees. So, it was not a big issue for us if we did not catch enough fish for one or two days. Now we no longer have that opportunity because people coming from Sinhala areas with permission, not only catch all the conches, but also totally destroy the future reproduction of these conches, by blasting shells using cylinders. If this happens in their areas, the governments response would have been different but here they are destroying our resources, without facing any consequences.4.

The influx of Southern fishermen and Indian fishermen to Northern Sri Lanka can be explained in economic and geographical terms, given that fisheries resources are largely concentrated around the Jaffna Peninsula. However, the way that Northern fishing communities perceive this issue should not be ignored, given they are not supported by the government or other agencies to develop their capacities at least to the level that they were in the pre-war years. Although the main reason why Northern fishers are not going to the South for seasonal fishing is the lack of resources in those areas and because they lack the technological ability to justify this journey, there is a tendency amongst Northern fishermen to perceive this issue in ethnic terms. For instance, when asked why southern fishermen were coming to the north, and Northern fishermen remained in the North, one fishing community leader answered:
Northern fishermen have not been moving to any southern area so far, because firstly they are a minority and hence the Southern people would not allow them to go there. Many of our people feel fear to enter into the Southern Sea, in the same way as

Interview with a fisherman in Karainagar, Jaffna on 11.11.2011, which was carried out by the author and Mr. T. Waradas.
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ICES Working Papers Southerners coming into our areas. But, traditionally Southern fishermen have been coming here and fishing in the North and East. In those days there were no large scale fishing here because a large number of people did not engage in fishing and therefore Southern fishermens arrival was not a big concern at all. It was actually an accepted thing. But, now the situation is changing. Increasingly more people are engaging in fishing in our areas as well. So, it is not fair to claim that Southern fishers can enjoy their fishing rights in these areas as we do, only because they have enjoyed those rights in the past. If they will continue to behave like this, I would say, it would create new problems. At the same time, especially in Mannar, army is supporting the Southern fishermen. Sometimes, Northern fishermen were even threatened by the Southerners in the sea. They have told that these areas were ours and you are not allowed to fish here.5

Illegal Fishing Methods: Northern fishermen are highly concerned about the violation of rules and regulations of fishing by Indian fishermen and Sri Lankan Southern fishermen in their traditional hunting grounds. Although the use of illegal fishing methods is a relatively common issue, the Northern fishing organizations argue that the issue if far more acute in their region. This issue may also increase inter-regional disparities because it is not only the Indian fishermen but also the Southern fishermen who are traveling from Matara and Negombo who are alleged to be using environmentally harmful fishing methods. The fishing community in Jaffna is unhappy about the fact that Southern fishermen are using dynamite in fishing because this method increases environmental pollution in the area, directly affecting the sustainability of fishing resources in their living areas. The use of environmentally destructive fishing methods suggests that fishermen who travel from other areas for seasonal fishing are less concerned about the longevity and sustainability of oceanic resources than the fishermen who have been living in these areas for generations. Some illegal fishing methods like the use of dynamite also destroy coastal vegetation. Sometimes, as members of the Jaffna fishing community explain, Southern fishermen put trees in to the sea to attract Cuttlefish who are attracted to these tree parts. They then use dynamite and catch the fish. This is a hugely harmful method that destroys all of the sea plants and the oceanic environment. There are similar problems regarding resource management as well. Members of Jaffna fishing organizations explain how the Southern fishermen tend to use small eye nets to capture prawns in an environmentally harmful manner; these nets capture so many other small fish in addition to prawns and those fish are mostly thrown away. In fact, to catch one kilogram of prawns, they catch and throw away at least 10 kilograms of small fish6.

5 Interview with Karainagar Fishermen Society president in Jaffna on 11.11.2011, which was carried out by the author and Mr. T. Waradas. 6 Interview with the president of fishermen society of Myliddy, Jaffna on 12.11.2011, which was conducted by the author and Mr. Waradas.

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Indian trawlers are very much responsible for exploiting and destroying the resources in the area, according to almost all persons interviewed. The number of fish they catch within a month is equal to the fish that we normally catch within five years, a leader of a fishing organization explained7. Another interviewee articulated the connection between Indian Trawler issue and the destruction of fishing resources as follows:
Indian trawlers are exploiting our resources. They have already destroyed their resources in their sea. Thats why they are coming here to exploit our resources. If they will continue this we will lost our entire fishing resources within few years. They are not only fishing in our sea; they are destroying all the sea resources by using various kinds of harmful methods. It destroys all the sea species which should protect for future generations. They remove all the sea plants which are crucial to reproduction of fishes. They are foreigners who exploit our resources and they illegally enter in to our sea. But we are unable to do anything on this case8

Narrow Understanding of Economic Infrastructure and Under-emphasis of Social Infrastructure


While the main focus of the current development initiatives in the Northern region is on economic, infrastructural development, the concept of infrastructure seems to be narrowly understood. While the authorities highlight the importance of constructing roads, harbors and markets, the priorities of the communities themselves are quite different. The latter emphasize the need to develop their capacity to accrue benefits from the macro-level infrastructural development. It is interesting to see that, against the dominant discourse of development, the communities' emphasize the importance of infrastructure at the community level. This community level development is perceived to be a prerequisite for attaining benefits from the government's macro development initiatives. These are some aspects of the above problem: Lack of infrastructure facilities and machinery: During the time of war, the majority of the infrastructure facilities of Jaffna fishing industry, especially ice factories and boatyards were damaged and destroyed. As a result, only two small scale ice factories remain in the area, one at Point Padro and the other at Gurunagar. A significant number of merchants livingin Jaffna had to buy ice from merchants coming from the South, whilst, as Prof. Soosaianandan points out, there were about 12 13 ice factories in the District before the war9.

7 Interview with a fishermen society leader from Point Pedro, Jaffna on 12.11.2011, which was conducted by the author and Mr. Waradas. 8 Interview with a fisherman in Point Pedro, Jaffna on 12.11.2011, which was conducted by the author and Mr. Waradas. 9

Interview with Augustine Soosai: an academic activist on fisheries issues in Northern Province of Sri Lanka, on 10.11.2011, by the author and Mr. T. Waradas.
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The war has also reduced the number of net factories to two, which is not sufficient for the demand in the area, As a result, many Jaffna fishermen have to buy fishing nets from the merchants based in Colombo. Lots of prawns and crab processing centers situated in Jaffna were also destroyed by the war, badly affecting the women workers who engaged in the processing activities. Currently, there are some multi-day boat owners in Jaffna District who live at Pesalai and Gurunagar areas. The Lack of boat and engine repairing centers and spare parts add to this issue. As a consequence, the fishing community in Jaffna has to buy these goods from Colombo at higher prices. Lack of Institutional Infrastructure: Within the new development initiatives in the Northern Province, insufficient attention has been paid to establishing an institutional infrastructure that benefit the fishing community. In the pre-war period, they had a private institute that gave education and training on the fishing industry but this also collapsed as a result of the war. Currently, there is only one educational centre for the fishing industry which is very poor in resources and training capacity because it is functioning in a small house where there are a dearth of training equipment. The lack of institutional support has led to an absence of trained, properly resourced persons who could contribute towards the development of the industry. Although the University of Jaffna is running a two year diploma course on the fishing industry, it is limited only to class room level theory courses. Establishing an institutional infrastructure for further research and practical innovation is a prerequisite for the development of this sector. Lack of stock assessment: Although the Northern Sea is full of marine resources, a stock assessment of these resources through an oceanographic study is yet to be conducted. Any development plan on the fishing industry should begin with such an assessment. According to Jaffna based experts, an assessment of the current status of the marine resources in the area is absent in the governments current development initiative10. In the Southern Provinces, institutions such as National Aquatic Resources Research and Development Agency (NARA) have been involved in assessing the stocks and studying the fish resources. However, there is no such institution functioning in the Northern Province. Although NARA searched for a suitable place to establish a Jaffna branch in 2010, some Jaffna based civil society members feel that it was not adequately supported by the Fisheries Ministry. Limitations in Insurance Facilities: During an interview conducted by this researcher, a community leader at Point Pedro pointed out that there is still no insurance coverage available for fishing communities in the area, although they face a greater risk in their occupation11.

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Interview with Augustine Soosai: an academic activist on fisheries issues in Northern Province of Sri Lanka, on 10.11.2011, by the author and Mr. T. Waradas. Interview with Augustine Soosai: an academic activist on fisheries issues in Northern Province of Sri Lanka, on 10.11.2011, by the author and Mr. T. Waradas.

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This is an important fact given that many other occupations including farming are now covered by insurance policies. The Point Padro fishing community members explain that they have been supporting themselves using their own money in cases where accidents occur. For instance, after losing two of their members at sea, they collected a sum of Rs. 50,000/= through their own society and supported the affected families. They articulate the existing situation using vulnerable language, saying that we are not receiving any kind of subsidies from anyone; we have to look after our own; we are facing to lots of difficulties; but we are surviving on our own12. Lack of Sophisticated Boats and Difficulties in Deep Sea Fishing: At present a large majority of Jaffna fishermen are using 16 feet boats and other small scale fishing techniques, while in the other areas of the country like Negombo and Matara, a significant number of rich fishermen own multi-day boats or Trawler boats. This signifies the uneven development between the North and the South with regard to the fishing industry, which has come about due to the protracted war. It is important to remember that prior to the war the Jaffna District was at the forefront of Sri Lankas fishing industry, providing 20%-25% of the total fish production in the country. Another important issue related to the lack of infrastructure capacity is that of deep sea fishing. There are not enough deep sea routes for fishing around the Jaffna peninsula. The community leaders in the area point out that to utilize sophisticated multi-day boats, it is necessary to make the existing fishing roots in the sea deeper. There is no point in providing fishing communities with credit facilities to get Trawler boats, as the World Bank and the Bank of Ceylon are doing, without developing deep sea fishing routes. These are a prerequisite for developing a technologically sophisticated fishing industry. Another problem related to the proposed bank loan system is that it benefits only those who are already wealthy in the industry; for instance, one needs to deposit one million rupees in the bank to get five million back as a loan. Furthermore, with regard to the deep sea fishing issue, the Northern fishing community feel that the government shows less political will to support them, while dedicating huge amounts of money to other development concerns, which in most cases, are not directly beneficial for the fishing community. As some community leaders explained to this author, a channel is required to make a deep sea fishing route. Further to this, they explained what happened when Minister Douglas Devananda initiated such a project and sent a dowser to dig a channel. This is the way they articulated the incident:

Interview with a fishermen society leader from Point Pedro, Jaffna on 12.11.2011, conducted by the author and Mr. T. Waradas.
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ICES Working Papers then the whole project was suddenly banned by coastal authorities, saying that no permission had been given to go ahead with the project; so the project was completely abandoned; we are totally disappointed about it; if they are unable to do such small things for us, and then think about our situation here? This is our situation; thats why we feel there is no point in giving data to people like you; if this happens in Colombo or in other areas, we are sure that governments response would be different.13

Unaddressed Structural Problems


Throughout this paper, it has been argued that any meaningful post-war development in Northern Sri Lanka, can not only address isolated and selected livelihood issues. The primary reason why the Northern communities have been dispossessed of the benefits of development are the structural circumstances that have been reinforced and worsened by thirty years of war. Understanding how, and the extent to which, these structural problems have been addressed in current development discourse is of paramount importance for any initiative attempting to reframe development so as to accommodate the perspective of communities in the war affected areas. Dependency Structures: As the above section indicated, the dependency structures within the Northern fishing community which were strengthened during the war have not been dismantled yet. Some members of the St. Thomas Fishing Society in the Eluvaitivu Island explained that, even though the pass system and security banning no longer exist, the fishermen in the island region have now become debtors to big businessmen. One fisherman explained it in the following words:
They come here and buy our fish. We cannot decide the price. We have got loans from them during the war time. So now they are exploiting our situation. They take all our fish at lower prices. We cannot go to the market directly and sell them. In fact, they take our fishs and sell them in the market at higher rates. They earn total profits from our fish. For instance, in some cases, they buy our fish at 125 -150 rupees and sell them at the market at 450 rupees. They again give us loans from the earnings that they got by selling our fish. When we try to sell fish on our own, they ask us to settle the loans that we initially borrowed from them. We need a market facility to avoid such exploitations and injustices. See, our situation today; we are like slaves here. We need ten litre of fuel per day. Five litres costs 400-500 rupees. We need to buy oil at prices like 4000- 5000 rupees. Sometimes, we catch only one kilo of fish; and in such

Interview with a fisherman from Point Pedro, Jaffna on 12.11.2011, conducted by the author and Mr. T. Waradas.

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Fishing in Turbulent Waters cases, we cannot even earn the fuel cost. It is not profitable to do fishing here anymore14.

Political Patronage Structures: Significant structures of political patronage developed in the island region in the Jaffna Peninsula during the period of the war. There were regionspecific strategic reasons for the development of these structures. As inhabitants explain, neither military forces nor the LTTE attempted to capture these islands, because both parties suspected the other were hiding there15. However, a third party named the Eelam Peoples Democratic Party (EPDP) that supported the government, captured the opportunity and established its power over the Northern islands in the early 1990s. Minister Douglas Devananda, the leader of the EPDP, visited these areas and, utilizing his contacts with the Colombo government, delivered certain benefits (economic and other) to the people who supported him. Initially, the EPDP distributed portions of rice of 300 grams for each person in the Eluvaitivu Island; gradually, those people were also allowed to go further into the sea for fishing. Moreover the Sri Lankan Navy distributed packets of milk for their children and helped them to bring sick persons and pregnant women to the hospital. Once Minister Devananda became an MP on the capture of the vote bank in the Island region, further support was provided to them by delivering material benefits such as a community hall, a water tank, a boat that is used for water transport, a loudspeaker etc. When the hurricane Nisha hit the islands in November, 2008 destroying the community hall, Devananda supported them again by rebuilding the hall. The government also distributed 2000 liters of drinking water to the 150 inhabitant families in the Island. Although these patronage systems initially helped the inhabitants to fulfill their basic needs, in the long run, this patronage led to the formation of unfavorable dependency structures. For instance, the economic dependency relationships between the businessmen and the local community, as the previous section explained, was facilitated by various political patronage structures. Interestingly, during our field visit, we observed that posters of Minister Devananda graces the walls of many households in the area.

Counter-Articulations of the Development Discourse


It is yet to be seen whether the people in the Northern and Eastern provinces will respond to the above problems by articulating their grievances and demands in ethno-nationalist terms. According to in-depth interviews conducted by this author with Northern fishing communities, people articulate their demands in various different ways. Some of the main issues articulated by Northern fishing community leaders and representatives are as follows:

14 Interview with a fisherman from Eluvativu, Jaffna on 14.11.2011, conducted by the author and Mr. T. Waradas. 15 Interview with Eluvativu fishermen, conducted by the author and Mr. T. Waradas, on 14.11.2011.

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Militarization: Many problems related to the fishing industry in the North are, directly or indirectly, related to the militarization process. The militarization of the region which was increased during the final phase of the war has not been completely relaxed despite the end of the war. For instance, some coastal areas, which are significant to the fishing industry are still designated High Security Zones (HSZ). Consequently, fishermen are banned from carrying out their livelihood activities in those areas. In many areas, fishermen were allowed to go to sea only within a permitted corridor and even to do so, they had to get passes from military forces. Although some of these restrictions have been removed, some coastal areas that are very significant for the fishing industry like Valikamam North, Wadamarachchi, Nagarkovil, Thenmarachchi, Thetkarly, Punagari, Mandaitivu and Keytes are still, in one way or the other, under military control. During the war, almost 81 KM of the Northern coastal line became HSZs; although restrictions have now been relaxed, the Northern fishing community, CBO leaders and intellectuals are very much concerned about the continuity of high security arrangements established in the period of war in areas where Northern fishermen used to carry out their livelihood activities. According to Prof. Soosaianandan, in mid 2010, nearly 10 villages were still banned from the fishing community and the restrictions had not relaxed in some areas like Palali because of security concerns16. Although the authorities are claiming that the situation in the Northern Province has largely been normalized in terms of de-militarization, this claim was highly contested by the special report on the situation in Northern and Eastern Provinces presented to the parliament by M.A Sumanthiran, a TNA parliamentarian on the 21st October, 2011. The report explains the impact of militarization on the fishing industry in Jaffna as follows:
Severe restrictions are placed on members of Tamil fishing communities, resulting in a drastic impact on their means of livelihood. The report tabled by me in July of this year detailed the restrictions placed on members of the fishing community in Mullaitivu, especially in the areas of Kokkilaai to Chundikkulam in Kilaakaththai, Maathirikkiraama, Uppumaaveli, Thoondai, Alambil, Semmalai, Naayaaru, Kokkuththoduvaai, and Karunaattukkernee. These restrictions are still in place and of serious concern is the fact that several Sinhala fishermen in the area have received direct permission to fish in this area from the Ministry of Defence. Sinhala fishermen are also permitted to fish for prawns in Nanthikkadal. In addition to such restrictions faced by Tamil individuals in fishing communities in the North and East, these individuals have received no reciprocal permission to engage in fishing in the South. Resentment over such incidents

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Interview with Augustine Soosai: an academic activist on fisheries issues in Northern Province of Sri Lanka, on 10.11.2011, by the author and Mr. T. Waradas.

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Fishing in Turbulent Waters is now becoming apparent, with recent objections from fishing unions in Vadamaarachchi over fishermen from the South occupying their property and also over their fishing practices which adversely impacted fishing in the area17.

Many people, who had recently been returned by the government to Uduththurai in Maruthenkerny (Vadamarachchi East), were soon after evicted from their houses along the coast and placed in transit camps on the other side of the coastal road. These houses are now being occupied by people from the South who are permitted by the Ministry of Defense to engage in diving for coral and star fish. Therefore, in addition to the forced eviction, local members of the fishing community are also unable to pursue their traditional livelihood of fishing as the sea bed is being disturbed by diving activities. At a meeting in the Maruthenkerny District Office on 15th of June 2011 at which Minister Douglas Devananda, and four TNA Members of Parliament were present, members of fishing unions complained that they had been threatened and that their consent was forcibly obtained for the evictions (Sumanthiran 2011). They also complained that they had no access to the buildings that had been constructed for their use.

Conclusion: Development Highway towards Post-war Reconciliation?


Although the recently initiated development projects in the Northern Province have addressed some of the issues discussed above, they have not been successful in making a significant breakthrough with regard to the structural problems related to the fishing industry like regional disparity, dependency relations, political patronage structures and related socioeconomic issues. On the contrary, these development initiatives have sometimes contributed to the intensification of these issues. For instance, the merchants from the Southern Provinces who have coolers, sophisticated techniques and market networks are now coming along the development highway and entering into the Northern fish market, establishing their dominance over the North. Although the perceptions of the Northern fishing community over this new development is not yet heard publicly, Jaffna civil society members are tending to unfavourably compare the current situation with the good old days of the Jaffna fishing industry in the pre-war period. Signs of uneven development are shown not only in the competition for limited resources in the sea but also in the disparity in technological capabilities. It seems that the fishing industry, which has been the main livelihood for a large number of populations in the Peninsula, has not acquired a central space in the governments development agenda. Although fishing communities do enjoy some benefits following the end

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Interview with Augustine Soosai: an academic activist on fisheries issues in Northern Province of Sri Lanka, on 10.11.2011, by the author and Mr. T. Waradas.
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of the armed struggle and the implementation of post-war development activities, there needs to be a broader approach for addressing not only the technical issues, but the major structural issues that obstruct the development of the industry. Throughout this paper I have attempted to critically review the optimistic libertarian explanation of post-war development in the Northern and Eastern provinces, which is primarily based on the idea of opening up new economic avenues for minority communities. The case study on the fishing industry in the Jaffna Peninsula suggests that there are some structural barriers and obstructions existing along the newly introduced development highway. It also shows that the current development strategy has served to both reinforce and reproduce existing social hierarchies, power relations and suppressions among people in the war affected areas. The main argument in this piece is that post-war development is being fashioned by mainstream nationalism in such a way as to strengthen uneven development among different ethnic communities. This is likely to increase tensions amongst inhabitants in the war affected areas. This research counteracts the popular belief that development is the solution for the ethnic problem, arguing instead that a politically articulated discourse of development can fuel the conflict, by unevenly distributing the benefits of economic growth among different ethnic communities. Furthermore, as the case of the fishing industry in Jaffna suggests, certain political articulations of development can reinforce the existing power relations and can even produce new forms of suppressions, inequalities, and grievances among the subjects of development.

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References Books and Articles Abeyratne, S 2004 Economic Roots of Political Conflicts: the Case of Sri Lanka, World Economy, 27, 8, 1295-1314. Aglietta, Michel (1976), A Theory of Capitalist Regulation: The US Experience, Verso Agnew, John 1987 Bringing Culture Back in: Overcoming the Economic-Cultural Split in Development Studies, Journal of Geography 86, no. 6: 276-301. Bastian, Sunil and Luckham, Robin 2003 Can Democracy be Designed? The Politics of Institutional Choice in Conflict Torn Societies, London, Zed Books. Bastian, Sunil and Bastian, Nicola 1996 Assessing Participation: A Debate from South Asia. Delhi: Konark Bastian, Sunil 1994 Devolution and Development in Sri Lanka, New Delhi: Konark Publishers Pvt. Ltd. Brow, James 1990)Nationalist Rhetoric and Local Practice: the fate of the village community in Kukulewa, in Spancer, Jonathan (eds,) Sri Lanka; History and the Roots of Conflict Fanon, Frantz (2004), The Wretched of the Earth, Grove Press Escobar, Auturo(1995 Encountering Development: The Making and Unmaking of the Third World, Princeton University Press. Franciscans International (Eds) 2003 The Right to Development; Reflections on the First Four Reports of the Independent Experts on the Right to Development; Geneva, Sida. Frank, A.G 1967 Capitalism and Under-Development in Latin America-Historical Studies of Chile and Brazil, Monthly Review Press. Green, Jessica F and Chambers, W Bradnee 2006 The Politics of Participation in Sustainable Development Governance, Tokyo. New York. Paris: United Nations University Press. Gunasanghe, Newton 1996 Selected Essays, Social Scientists Association: Colombo. Hennayake, Nalani 2006 Culture, Politics, and Development in Postcolonial Sri Lanka, Lexington Books: Oxford. Herath, Dhammika 2008 Rural Development through Social Capital? An Inquest on the Linkages between Social Capital and Development in War-Torn Villages in Sri Lanka, Intellecta Docusys, University of Gothenburg, Sweden.
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Kemper, Steven 1990 J.R Jayewardena: Righteousness and Real Politik, in Spencer, Jonathan (eds.), Sri Lanka; History and the Roots of the Conflict: pp 187-204. Lakshman, W.D (Eds)(1997 Dilemmas of Development. Fifty Years of Economic Change in Sri Lanka, Colombo: Sri Lanka Association of Economists. Liyanage, Sumanasiri 1997 in Lukshman, W.D. (eds), Dilemmas of DevelopmentFifty years of Economic Change in Sri Lanka, Colombo: Sri Lanka Association of Economists. Mayer, Markus et al. (eds.) 2003 Building Local for Peace Rethinking Conflict and Development in Sri Lanka, New Delhi: MacMillan. Peebles, Patrick 1990 Colonization and Ethnic Conflict in the Dry zone of Sri Lanka, Journal of South Asian Studies 49 (1): 30-55. Peiris, G.H 1993 Economic Growth, Poverty and Political Unrest, In KM. de Silva (eds.) Sri Lanka Problems of Governance, New Delhi: Centre for Policy Research. Spencer, Jonathan (eds.), (1990), Sri Lanka History and the Roots of Conflict, London and New York: Routledge Rajasingham-Senanayake, Darini 2003 Beyond Institution and Constitution Building: Linking Post/Conflict Reconstruction and Deep Democracy, in Markus et al (eds.,) Building Local Capacities for Peace: Rethinking Conflict and Development in Sri Lanka, Delhi: MacMillan India Ltd. Richardson, John 2005 Paradise Poisoned Learning about Conflict, Terrorism and Development from Sri Lankas Civil Wars, Kandy: ICES Publication. Rostow, W (1960), The Stages of Economic Growth: A Non-Communist Manifesto, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press. Sarvananthan, Muttukrishna 2005 Post-1977 Period Economic Reforms in Sri Lanka, Colombo: ICES. Said, Edward 1978 Orientalism, Vintage Books Sen, Amartya 1999 Development as Freedom, Oxford University Press, UK. Silva, Kalinga Tudor 2003 Armed Conflict, Displacement and Poverty Trends in Sri Lanka: Evidence from Selected Displaced Populations, in Markus et al (eds.,) Building Local Capacities for Peace: Rethinking Conflict and Development in Sri Lanka, Delhi: MacMillan India Ltd. Siluvaithasan, Augustine Soosai & Stokke, Kristian 2006 Fisheries under Fire: Impacts of War and Challenges of Reconstruction and Development in Jaffna Fisheries, Sri Lanka. Norsk Geografisk Tidsskrift. ISSN 0029-1951. 60(3), s 240- 248

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Sosai, A.S 2004 Indo-Sri Lankan Fishermen Conflict in the Palk Bay Region, Fisheries and Aquaculture Development Organization, Norway. Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorty 1990 The Postcolonial Critique, London: Routledge. Sriskandarajah, Dhananjayan(2003 The Returns of Peace in Sri Lanka: the Development Cart Before the Conflict Resolution Horse? Colombo: ICES. Tennakoon, N. Serena 1988 Rituals of Development: The Accelerated Mahaweli development Program of Sri Lanka, American Ethnologist, 5(2), pp 294-310. Wickremasinghe, Nira 2006 Sri Lanka in the Modern Age, A History of Contested Identities, New Delhi: Foundation Books. Interviews Fisherman in Karainagar, Interview carried out by the author and Mr. T. Waradas, 11.11. 2011, Karainagar, Jaffna. President of the Fishermen Society at Karainagar, Interview carried out by the author and Mr. T. Waradas, 11.11. 2011, Karainagar, Jaffna. President of the Fishermen Society at Myliddy, Interviews carried out by the author and Mr. T. Waradas, Myliddy, Jaffna on 12.11.2011. Leader of the Fishermen Society at Point Pedro, Interview was carried out by the author and Mr. T. Waradas, Point Pedro, Jaffna on 12.11.2011 Augustine Soosai: an academic activist on fisheries issues in Northern Province of Sri Lanka, Interview was carried out by the author and Mr. T. Waradas, Jaffna, 10.11.2011 Fisherman in the Eluvativu Island, Interviews was carried out by the author and Mr. T. Waradas, Eluvativu Island, 14.11.2011. Other sources Sumanthiran, M.A 2011, Situation in North-Eastern Sri Lanka, A Series of Serious Concerns, http://dbsjeyaraj.com/dbsj/archives/2759, (accessed on 24th of December 2011) The Sunday Leader (Newspaper) 2008 www.thesundayleader.lk/2010/08/22/jaffna-a-yearsince-the-end-of-the-war/ (accessed on 21st of February 2011).

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This paper explores the relationship between development and ethnic reconciliation in post-war Sri Lanka. The Sri Lankan government espouses the view that economic development can address ethnic reconciliation through reducing disparities in the distribution of economic and livelihood opportunities. Using the fishing industry in the Northern and Eastern provinces as a case-study, the author assesses the extent to which the governments development initiatives have contributed towards reducing ethnic tensions in the war affected areas. This paper argues that, rather than opening new avenues towards ethnic reconciliation, the governments post-war development strategy has led to an increased asymmetry in the distribution of the benefits of economic growth between ethnic communities. Whilst, the Northern fishing communities have received a certain amount of technical and resource assistance, the government has failed to adequately address the vast (economic, educational and technological) disparities that exist between Northern fishing communities and their competitors from the Southern provinces and South India. This has resulted in the (actual and/or perceived) reinforcement and reproduction of existing social hierarchies and power relation as well as the emergence of new forms of suppression and inequality.

Sumith Chaaminda is a Research Associate at the International Centre for Ethnic Studies

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