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A. Preliminary Data
FIGURES AT A GLANCE AT ALL INDIA LEVEL:
1.
2.
3.
4.

Length of Coastline
Exclusive Economic Zone
Continental shelf area (approx.)
Fish Production 2013-14 (Prov.)(million tonnes)

5. Export of fisheries products, 2013-14
a) Quantity (’000 Tonnes )
b) Value ( ` crores )

8118 kms
2.02 million sq. km
0.53 million sq. km
Marine Inland Total
3.44
6.14
9.58
983.76
30213.26

6. Contribution of fisheries to Gross Domestic
Products (GDP), 2012-13 at current prices
a) GDP from fisheries
b) Contribution of fisheries sector to
i)Total GDP
ii) GDP from Agriculture sector

Rs.78053 Crores
0.83 per cent
4.75 per cent

7. Population
a) On March 1,2001
b) On March 1, 2011
c) Annual Exponential Growth Rate 1901-2011
d) Decadal changes in %

1028.70 million
1210.19 million
1.67%
17.64

8. Fishermen population(as per Live stock
Census,2003)
a) No. of family member
I.
Total
II.
Males
III.
Females
IV.
Children

14,485,354
4,696,158
4,033,963
5,755,233

b)Engaged in fishing operations
I.
Full time
II.
Part time
c) Engaged in fishing related activities other than
actual fishing
I.
Marketing of fish
II.
Repair of fishing nets
III.
Processing of fish
IV.
Other activities

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933,124
1,072,079

391,000
245,100
46,200
334,700

FIGURES AT A GLANCE AT TAMIL NADU LEVEL:
COASTAL LENGTH
NUMBER OF COASTAL DISTRICTS
NUMBER OF FISHING VILLAGES
EXCLUSIVE ECONOMIC ZONE
CONTINENTAL SHELF
MARINE FISHERFOLK POPULATION

1076 KM
13
608
1.9 LAKHS km 2
41,412 km 2
9.24 LAKH

FISHING CRAFTS REGISTERED (ONLINE): AS ON 30.06.14
1 MECHANISED FISHING BOATS
2.TRADITIONAL CRAFTS
(MOTORISED AND NON-MOTORISED)

5253
30436 (25529+4907)

INFRASTRUCTURAL FACILITIES
MAJOR FISHING HARBOURS

3(Chennai,Thoothukudi and Chinnamuttom)

MAJOR FISHING HARBOURS (UNDER
CONSTRUCTION)

4(THENGAPATTINAM,POOMPUHAR,COLACHEL,AND
MUTTOM)

MEDIUM FISHING HARBOURS

4(PHAZHAYAR,MALLIPATTINAM,NAGAPATTINAM
AND CUDDALORE)

Jetties

8

Developed fish landing centres

25

Other fishing landing centres

363

Marine fish production

4.32 lakhs

Marine products exports(2012-13)
[Source: Fisheries Policy Notes 2014-15]

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86585 MT**
(VALUE RS.3331.78 CRORE)

B. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY OF THE PROBLEM:
Palk Bay has been a ground of conflict for a very long time. In recent times the problem has
reached such proportions that finding a solution has become the need of the hour. History is
clear: the area has been a nomadic home for both Indian and Sri Lankan fishermen. The
traditional fishermen in this region knew no nationalities and considered themselves to be “sons
of the seas”. However, Palk Bay, which separates the coastal regions of Tamil Nadu from the
northern parts of Sri Lanka has rich fishing grounds only on the Sri Lankan side.
The present problem is an ownership crisis: Indian fishermen claim that they have been fishing
in the region from time immemorial but Sri Lanka says Indian fishermen are depleting their
marine resources with dangerous trawling technology. This needs to be understood with a
clear sense of reality and its subtleties not all of which are immediately clear. The problem
touched another height towards the end of the ethnic crisis in Sri Lanka. The true origin of the
problem is that Sri Lankans view Indian Tamil fishermen with suspicion. This has resulted in
loss of gears, crafts and lives on the Indian part. Despite many arrests and deaths Indian
fishermen keep going to their historical waters as they have no other livelihood options.
Due to lack of alternative livelihood solutions and guidance, Indian fishermen are fighting and
losing their lives for the depleting prawn fishery of Palk Bay whereas Sri Lankan fishermen are
silently taking away the rich tuna fishery of the wedge bank in the Indian Exclusive
Economic Zone.

C. Statement of the Problem: Essence and Consequence
Palk Bay fishermen of Indian origin have lost fishing rights in their
traditional waters/fishing zone in the North Lankan region.

Widows, orphans and disabled persons are a common sight on the Indian side of the Palk
Bay region. When those fishermen who get killed or maimed, are the only source of income

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for their families their death impoverishes the family and ruins their social status. Their wives
and children are pushed into poverty and illiteracy. This is also the reason for the prevalence
of child labor in these areas.

Loss or confiscation of fishing gear, crafts and loss of catch on protest-and –agitation or non
fishing days affects the economy of this region very badly. Though maximum damage in this
regard is done by the Sri Lankan Navy, confiscation is done by Indian coast guards as well.

Loss
Loss of fishing gear including nets
Loss of crafts and boats
Loss of catch
Loss due to non-fishing day

Approx Value in crores
100.00
100.00
150.00
200.00

Total

550

With the entire Indian fishing industry going through a phase of dwindling fishing resources
and an ever increasing market demand for fish products, the Palk Bay provides a
crystallization of the trend faced by the Indian fishing industry in general. All its complicated
ramifications and operative forces are on view.

Fishermen who are by nature fiercely independent have become passive and doledependent nowadays. Furthermore, today’s capital-oriented, market driven economy has
pushed them towards chasing ‘’free schemes’’.

Fishermen of the region lack updated information on latest fishing techniques, availability of
rich varieties in different fishing grounds and correct market rates for the same. They do not
understand the change and their unwillingness to accept the change has crippled them in
the Palk Bay. Not only are they unable to look for new fishing grounds but they are also
unaware of technology related to other efficient methods of fishing.

Another highly visible and painful scene is the vicious circle of poverty and debt. Most of the
medium-sized boat owners are suffering in the clutches of local money lenders. Their debts
are more than the value of their fishing gear and boats. They are unable to escape from the
trap of debts which they can never hope to settle.

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B-Reasons:
1) Indo – Sri Lankan Agreement in 1974 and its amendment in 1976
The Indo-Sri Lankan Agreement of 1974 forcefully handed over Kachchatheevu to
Srilanka without seeking a consensus from amongst the fishermen of this region. The
1976 a non ratified executive order went further and said that “the fishing vessels and
fishermen of India shall not engage in fishing in the historic waters, the territorial sea
and the Exclusive Economic Zone of Sri Lanka, nor shall the fishing vessels and
fishermen of Sri Lanka engage in fishing in the historic waters, the territorial sea and the
Exclusive Economic Zone of India, without the express permission of Sri Lanka or India,
as the case may be."
Let it be clearly understood that the Sri Lankan government uses the above
agreement as a weapon to torment Indian fishermen.

2) Indo-Norwegian Project 1963
It was a joint venture by the Indian and Norwegian governments introduced to promote
fisheries of peninsular India. The main feature of this venture was the introduction of
trawler technology into the Indian fishing industry. Unlike many other regions of the
world’s oceans, the seas near the North Pole are not a part of a continental shelf and
lies at a great depth of two kilometers on an average. But the introduction of this
technology in the Palk Bay which is not even 20 meters deep is disastrous to the entire
biodiversity.

3) Greed: Commercial Fishermen
Commercial fishermen are those who, over a period of time, grew and changed either
from traditional fishing communities or from occupational fisherfolk backgrounds in
upland communities. The rise of the world demand for shell-fish, chiefly prawns caused
a wave of economic opportunity which resulted in the prawn industry. By and large
commercial fishing is an outcome of the Indo-Norwegian Project. They are about 20%
of the fishermen population, who use trawling technology ruthlessly in the continental
shelf, leading to depletion of marine resources. Over and above this, their mechanized
boats are powered up to 200 hp- 450hp against the TMFR act of 1983 which allows a
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power of only 150 hp. This is a deliberate violation of the guidelines of the regional
fisheries department.

A. HYPOTHESIS
“RETRIEVAL OF KACHCHATHEEVU WILL SOLVE ALL PROBLEMS!”

Kachchatheevu is an island in the Palk Bay that has belonged to the Sethupathy of Ramnad in
the past. Post-independent India gave Kachchatheevu to Sri Lanka by the 1974 agreement after
which tensions intensified in this region. This may be attributed to Indian administrative
sentiment which always wanted to maintain cordial relations with Sri Lanka on the basis
of Geo-politics, though the latter has made no reciprocatory gesture.
Meanwhile a myth has been built and broadcasted that retrieving Kachchatheevu will solve all
the problems of Indian fishermen. In a unanimous resolution on May 3, 2013, the Tamil Nadu
Legislative Assembly demanded that the Government of India should take immediate steps to
retrieve Kachchatheevu. The present and future of the Palk Bay fishermen are face to face with
dire threats that are bitterly politicized. Quite naturally this leads to tensions in the bilateral
relationship between Sri Lanka and India. The question is if Katchchatheevu is taken back,
will the Palk Bay livelihood problems of Indian fishermen come to an end? This report
attempts to look closely at the rhetoric of this question.

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B. TESTING OF HYPOTHESIS
i)

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IMBL Current Status / IMBL Status in case of Katchchatheevu Retrieval and
of Indian Commercial Fishermen Entry in the Disputed Water

ii)

The disastrous effect of Bottom Trawling Operation on the Seabed

One of the most harmful techniques employed in fishing is bottom trawling, an industrial method
which uses enormous nets weighed down with heavy ballast that are dragged along the sea
floor, raking up or crushing everything in their way, from fish to ancient coral. Many species,
including those at risk of extinction, are accidentally caught and then thrown back into the sea,
often already dead. These collateral losses, known as discards, can reach up to 80% of the total
catch nowadays. Large areas of the seabed, the habitat where fish find food and shelter, are
crushed, flattened and desertified.
Seabed before bottom trawling [Representative image] Seabed after bottom
trawling

So the mere rhetoric of retrieving Katchatheevu is not going to solve the problem. We
need to understand the real problem in the Palk Bay.

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C. Problem Analysis
a) Regions contributing to Current Palk Bay Problems

S.No.

Location

1
2
3
4
5

Karaikkal
Nagapattinam
Arukattuthurai
Jegathapattinam
Kottaipattinam
Rameshwaram
(Including Mandapam)
Total

6

400
1200
400
400
250

No of Boats Venture
Into Sri Lankan
Border
160
480
200
200
50

% of Boats Venture
Into Sri Lankan
Border
40%
40%
50%
50%
20%

2000

1000

50%

4650

2090

45%

No of
Boats

The above data reveals that almost 50% of the total boats registered in all the 6 regions have been
crossing the IMBL and are the source problem of the current fishermen issue in Palk Bay
Here are the reasons why commercial fishermen are crossing the IMBL and going into Sri Lankan sea:

There are no rich fishing grounds in the Indian waters of the Palk Bay.

Commercial fishermen have high capacity engines onboard (Max 450 HP).

Commercial fishermen have invested in capital intensive double trawling nets and Purse Seine
nets.

There is no other option for the mechanized fishermen of the region who are suffering in the
clutches of multifold and multiplying debts.

The data reveals that 2090 boats spread across the six regions (Karaikkal, Nagapattinam, Arukattuthurai,
Jegathapattinam, Kottaipattinam and Rameshwaram) cross the IMBL. These trespassers need to be
identified on the basis of their fishing gear and engine capacity. All 2090 boat owners should be
convinced and encouraged by Government to adapt to the Deep Sea Fishing. Our fishermen who are
operating on a large scale have to understand the need of the hour and should be ready to change.
Government on the other hand should encourage them with subsidies and soft loans and facilitate the
change. Buy back arrangement may be the other option.

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D. Field Survey carried out by Bharatha Culture and Heritage
Trust (BCHT)
Area of Survey: Rameshwaram Island
Sample Units: 100 (Random)
Period of Survey: Nov-25 to Dec 20 2014

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Table: 1 Fishing Communities ofRameshwaram Island
S.No. Community
1
2
3
4
5
6

Kadaiyar
Karaiyar
Maraikayar
Valaiyar
Paravar
Commercial Fishermen of
Non Fishing Communities
Total

Area of Fishing

Status of
Crossing IMBL

18%
4.50%
2.50%
28%
37%

0- 6 NM
0- 6 NM
0- 6 NM
0-12 NM
Full Palk Bay

No
No
No
Partly
Partly

10%

Full Palk Bay

Fully

% of Population

100%

Table: 2 Fishermen Craft Ownership Pattern*
Types Of
S.No. Fishermen

1

2

Types of
Community Craft
Small Vallam
Valaiyar*
Vallam
Mechanised
Boat
Traditional
Fishermen
Small Vallam
Paravar*
Vallam
Mechanised
Boat
Commercial
Mechanised
Fishermen** All
Boat

Registration
Not Registered
Registered

% of
Boats
70
20

Crossing
IMBL
No
Yes

Registered
Not Registered
Registered***

10 Yes
40 No
30 Yes

Registered

30 Yes

Registered

100 Yes

* Valaiyar and Paravar are part of traditional fishing community on the Rameshwaram island.
**Commercial fishermen of non-fishing communities.
***Vallams which cross IMBL do fishing by Gill netting only.

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Facts brought out by the study on the nature of fishing activity in
the Palk Bay:

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Palk Bay by virtue of its nature cannot be classified into inshore, offshore and deep sea. It is just an
extension of the continental shelf on both India and Sri Lanka. By virtue of nature, Tamil Nadu has
very little share in the Exclusive Economic Zone of the country. At no point does the Palk Bay region
cross the 20.0m depth. By and large it is the extension of the shallow waters from both the Indian side and
the Sri Lankan side. Unfortunately most of the Indian side of Palk Bay is a barren water body and
the rich fishing grounds are in Sri Lankan waters.
Being an almost naturally closed area fish movements are also much less, so breeding has to take place
within the area itself. It is a geological or natural wonder how fish breeding takes place and how the fast
depleting fishing grounds are still able to yield fish catches even after the continuous erratic fishing in the
region.
Palk Bay is a ground naturally adapted for traditional fishing and not for modern day trawling. Studies
reveal small-scale traditional fishermen are more numerous on both the Indian as well as the Sri Lankan
side. They have traditional, eco-friendly fishing nets and gear for exploiting marine resources which are
temporarily exhaustible in nature.

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Findings from the study made by BCHT

The above study reveals that 90% of the fishermen believe and confirm that retrieval of
Kachchatheevu will not change the situation even slightly. It is evident from the study that our
fishermen do not stop around Kachchatheevu but go beyond the island for their livelihood.

Palk Bay region suits only traditional fishing, this is confirmed by 75% of the respondents
hence it has to be recognized and notified as an area of traditional fishing only.

The very validity of the Indo Sri Lankan Agreement is under question now. It is not formally
ratified. The agreement was enforced in favor of SriLankan fishermen and at the cost of Indian
fishermen. Clinging to a non-ratified order amounts to violation of INTERNATIONAL LAWS
and UNITED NATIONS’ guidelines and also our own national laws. Fishermen say that Sri
Lankan deep sea trawlers and long liner fishermen are magnanimously allowed by Government of
India in the Exclusive Economic Zones of the Indian Ocean but it is not reciprocated by Sri Lanka
in the Palk Bay area. While the Indian Government is not imposing any stringent terms and
conditions on Sri Lankan fishermen, the Sri Lankan Government has been imposing numerous
conditions on Indian fishermen in the Palk Bay. The 1976 executive order is one-sided and
weighted in favour of Sri Lankan fishermen and fails to address the vital issues of Indian
fishermen. Since then neither is fishing activity regulated nor are nuances of important issues
debated. The root cause for the agony of the Indian fishermen has still not been addressed. Indian
fisher- communities of that area have for decades been harboring a deep sense of betrayal by the
Government of India through the Indo-Sri Lankan agreement.

Tamil Nadu Fisheries Department, which is the executing authority of the Indo-Norwegian
project, has from its inception, completely failed to monitor and control the project from the
grass roots level. The result is too many trawlers chasing too little temporarily exhaustible marine
resources and finally ending in dangerous depletion of the same in the Palk Bay. This report has
also narrowed down the causative agents of the Palk Bay problem. The problem is not only from
the Sri Lankan Navy which has become ruthless in dealing with Indian fishermen who cross the
International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) but also our own commercial fishermen who have
colonized this region.

Commercial fishermen though being 10% of the population in Rameshwaram Island are a
community which has evolved rapidly in a short period of time. The prawn market boom through

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the Indo-Norwegian project gave them entry into the trade but today the fishery industry of the
island is in their hands. They employ poor traditional fishermen onboard the high capacity boats
and chase them in to the troubled waters in search of a rich prawn harvest. They are not in the
least concerned about the sustainability of fishing, their only interest being Return on
Investment.

Another poignant and common scene on the island is the vicious circle of poverty and
indebtedness. Most of the medium-boat owners are suffering in the clutches of local money
lenders. Their debts are more than the value of their fishing gear and boats. They are unable to get
out of the vicious trap of debts. Against the harshness of their debts, death has no meaning.
This tendency, which encourages recklessness, is also one of the reasons which chases them into
dangerous water zones.

The maintenance of fraudulent registration books by local money lenders are another source
of trouble. It is observed the fisheries department of Rameshwaram issues a maximum of 615
tokens on a fishing day against 1434 registered books. One registration book earns minimum
diesel subsidy of Rs.1,50,000 per year. Registration books at times are traded for obtaining tokens
on daily, weekly and monthly rental basis. Actual registration and the corresponding physical
availability of boats do not match. One can imagine the tragedy and downward spiral into
hopelessness.

E. Solutions – Recommended by BHCT
Immediate

1. Based on the following conditions, the Government of India should seek permission from the Sri
Lankan authorities to permit traditional Indian Fishermen to continue fishing in the historical water
of Palk Bay to continue
a. Indian fishermen shall not enter the Sri Lankan in-shore water up to 6 NM
b. Palk Bay to be recognized as traditional fishing ground, Indian fishermen shall continue to do
traditional fishing methods like Gill Netting, Hook & Line, cage fishing and fish farming
only
c. Indian fishermen shall not use banned and restricted fishing gear in the Palk Bay

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d. Indian Mechanised Fishermen should be allowed for a minimum of 60 fishing days against
the existing norm of 120 fishing days in a year in these historical waters
e. Indian mechanized fishermen shall accept 60 banning days (September and October) in
addition to the existing ban. This amounts to total banning days of 105 days per year
f.

The fishing days of Indian traditional fishermen and Sri Lankan traditional fishermen should
be equal as per the existing norms.

g. In spite of the above, there is a general request from the Palk Bay mechanized fishermen that
they should be allowed to do non-dangerous trawling in the historical waters for a period of
three years until the time they convert all their eligible fishing boats for deep sea fishing in
the Bay of Bengal and in the Gulf of Mannar. It is justified because India magnanimously
accepts violation of Sri Lankan deep sea fishing trawlers to exploit high valued tuna fishery
in the exclusive economic zone of India (Wedge Bank) on a daily basis and it is just a gesture
of reciprocation of Sri Lankan Government. [According to 1976 Indo-Sri Lankan agreement
the Sri Lankan operations in the Wedge Bank should have stopped by 1981 as the Wedge
Bank lies in India’s Exclusive Economic Zone. But to this day their operations continue.]

2. Modernizing the Pamban railway bridge
The 100-year-old railway bridge over the channel should be modernized for the day-to-day
opening operation which enables smooth movement of fishing boats from North Sea to the South
Sea

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Depth and air draft available below the Pamban Bridge do not permit normal fishing vessels to
cross. So it requires everyday opening of the Pamban Bridge which is presently opened once in
ten days. This is opposed by railway officials. But if the hand-based opening operations are
modernized and made switch-based then the opening can be done on a daily basis which will help
the mechanized boat fishermen of Rameshwaram to enter the Gulf of Mannar which has rich
deep-sea marine resources.

Approximate project cost – Rs.30crores

3. Assistance from Government for existing Deep Sea Fishing

There are about 580 deep-sea-going fishermen already operating from Thoothoor region in Tamil Nadu.
There is no encouragement for these fishermen from the state government who exploit the Exclusive
Economic Zone and bring rich varieties of fishes including yellow and blue finned tuna from the Indian
Ocean. Fuel is the main cause of their worry as they go up to 200NM and operate. Government of India
should adopt all the 580 deep-sea going fishermen and release special diesel subsidies in addition to
existing subsidies. It is understood that they do not get the correct international market price for their
catch due to loss of quality in transit. They should be encouraged to increase additional storage and
freezing capacity onboard with state- of-the-art technology.


Special Diesel Subsidy (580 Boats * Rs. 3,00,000 ) – Rs.17.4 Crores
Special Grant to increase freezing capacity (580 Boats * Rs. 10,00,000)-Rs.58 Crores

4. Assistance from Government for changing commercial fishing to Deep Sea Fishing

Our study reveals that 2090 boats across six regions (Karaikkal, Nagapattinam, Arukattuthurai,
Jegathapattinam, Kottaipattinam and Rameshwaram) cross IMBL. They need to be identified on the
basis of their fishing gear and engine capacity. All 2090 boat owners should be convinced and
encouraged by Government to adapt to the Deep Sea Fishing.
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In order to convert the available boats for deep sea fishing, Government of India should grant 50% of
the cost as soft loan and another 50% as subsidy. The estimated conversion cost is Rs. 30 lakhs

Year
First
Second
Third

No of Boats
700
700
690

Subsidy
2500000
2500000
2500000
Total
Training Cost

Cost
1750000000
1750000000
1725000000

Project Cell Cost
Grand Total Cost

522,50,00,000
10,00,00,000
8,00,00,000
540,50,00,000

5. Fibre boats to traditional Palk Bay Fishermen:
Since 1983,due to undercover LTTE movements, the operation of fiber boats with outboard engines
has been banned in Ramnad and Puthukottai districts. It was a local district administration’s decision
which is redundant now as LTTE has been decimated in the area. Moreover the outboard engines
used by LTTE were 100HP to 200HP which were nowhere near the capacity of our local fishermen.
Now, if this is allowed, small scale fishermen will invest in fiber boats with outboard engine capacity
ranging from 5HP to 10HP. This will have an immediate elevating effect on the living of small scale
fishermen as they will become self-owned boat operators /fishermen. Their operating range shall be
within 5 to 10 NM in the region. This will also stop traditional fishermen seeking employment with
oppressive commercial fishing operations who insist that their employee fishermen court danger and
to go to Sri Lankan waters.

Approximate Project Cost – (500 x 1.50 lakhs) Rs. 7.5 crores

6. Identify and remove redundant forest acts which affect small scale traditional fishermen of region.
7. Lack of adequate number of efficient and bold fisheries officials: one of the reasons for failure of
control and execution mechanism in Palk Bay. This needs to be addressed with immediate effect.
Sufficient strong-minded officers from coastal communities to be recruited and posted.
8. NGOs to be encouraged to conduct counseling programmes for the fishermen in Palk Bay region,
explaining the reasons for depletion of fishing resources and the use of wrong technology. They must
be trained to campaign for sustainable fishery technology in the region.

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Approximate Project Cost – Rs. 10crores

9. Government of India should interact with State government for immediate cancelation of all
registration books of both mechanized and non-mechanized boats and re-register all mechanized and
non mechanized boats of six regions (Karaikkal, Nagapattinam, Arukattuthurai (N), Jegathapattinam,
Kottaipattinam and Rameshwaram) after thorough physical verification. The above re-registration on
physical verification will arrest black marketing in the fishing industry and avoid loss to government
exchequer on subsidies and reliefs.

Approximate Project Cost – Rs. 3crores

10. Friends of Coast Guards should be introduced and onboard sea guards need to be selected from
local fishermen of the region. They should be equipped with patrolling and rescue boats. They
must do waterway patrolling in the Palk Bay.

Approximate Project Cost – Rs. 20crores

11. Safety apparatus to be provided to traditional fishermen on par with Indian coast guards.

Approximate Project Cost – Rs. 5 crores

Solutions: Permanent and Long Term
1. Fishing Harbor atMookaiyur, in Ramnad district.

Formation of a Fishing harbor at Mookaiyur in the Gulf of Mannar region has been a long
time demand of the fishermen community of the region. It is now understood that the centre has
already cleared the project and has allotted funds. Now it is waiting only for the local state
government’s final clearance and needs to be attended with immediate effect. This project will
reduce 60% to 70% of the congestion of the mechanized boats from Rameswaram. In fact, 75%
of the existing traditional fishermen in Rameswaram Island came from Mookaiyur and even now
many of them have their grandparents’ houses and lands at Mookaiyur. Hence they are eagerly
looking at this project as an alternative solution to the existing issues with Sri Lankan navy. A
fishing harbor has to be developed at Mookaiyur with state- of-the- art technology which includes
landing, storing and marketing.

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Approximate Project Cost – Rs.150 Crores

2. Coast Communication Device (CCD for Tamil Nadu Coast)
A coast communication device has to be introduced with preloaded applications which are developed
exclusively for fishermen and fishing with state-of-the-art communication technology and uplinked with
satellites. This should be done taking into account coastal security particularly in the wake of the 26/11
attacks.
These exclusively manufactured devices with customized software applications, should have the
following features and facilities:



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In-built GPS application
Preloaded modern geographic map and data
Preloaded with regional languages which fishermen can understand and communicate with
ease
Long battery power backup with dual charging of both battery and solar source

Here are the ways in which this communication device would be beneficial to the fishermen and to the
government



All the registered boats, both mechanized and country boats will be controlled and guided by
a centralized control room set up in shore.
Fishermen will be guided for better fishing catch by information about details of fishing
grounds for better catch in their regional language. Plankton data from satellites can be used
for that purpose.
Fishermen will be alerted when they cross the IMBL border or when they go beyond their
demarkated area for fishing.
Fishermen will be able to get accurate and timely updates on weather, climate and ongoing
changes of mid-sea characteristics
This communication device will be the primary channel of communication and key success
factor in the proposed Deep Sea Fishing Park (DSFP) in the bay of Bengal and Gulf of
Mannar.
Approximate Project Cost – Rs.20Crores

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3. Breakwater at Yervadi with Jetty
There is also a need for the construction of breakwater at Yervadi near Kizhakaraiin order to
harness the south sea and do deep-sea fishing to the fullest extent. South sea is surf-beaten and
becomes very rough from April 15th to October 15th every year. This is due to the very nature of
inclement weather. During this time the fishermen tend to migrate to the North Sea. The
construction of breakwaters would prevent south sea fishermen migrating from the South Sea
area to North Sea.
Approximate Project Cost – Rs.40 Crores
4. Breakwater at Pamban with Jetty
There is also a long pending request by traditional fishermen of the region to have a breakwater
facility at North Sea of Pamban. This facility will safeguard the traditional fishermen of the region
and protect their fishing gear from inclement weather.
Approximate Project Cost – Rs.25 Crores
5. Deep Sea Fishing Park (DSFP)
Deep-sea fishing must be promoted in a big way in the Indian Coastal Area to increase productivity,
improve the economy of the coastal area and also in turn to help in resolving existing issues of the
fisher folk communities. Though being a capital heavy intensive venture, DSFP project recognizes
the individuality of mechanized boat fishermen and its functioning is based on the Co-operative
society model.

Deep sea fishing allows Indian fishermen to exploit the complete Exclusive

Economic Zones more efficiently and in a sustained way. DSFP can be introduced in the Tamil
Nadu coast especially in the Gulf of Mannar of the Ramnad district. It can then be replicated at the
Bay of Bengal of the Nagapattinam district as pilot projects in order to exploit the rich marine
resources of the EEZ.
Deep Sea Fishing is a highly rewarding industry which has not been capitalized in India. Most of
our high value marine products in the exclusive economic zone of India are being taken away by the
fisher folk of other countries. Example: Blue and yellow finned tuna catch by Sri Lankan long
liners in the Indian Ocean. In order to provide a permanent solution for Palk Bay problem, it is
necessary to implement the idea of Deep Sea Fishing Park which provides regular employment on
the one side and quality assurance of fish products on the other.

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Following are the characteristics DSFP:





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40 + 40 mechanised boat fishermen will be selected for the pilot deep sea fish park
project. 10 mechanized boat owning fishermen are formed as a cluster through a co
cooperative society act.
All 10 mechanised boats shall fish in the mid
mid-sea
sea around a daughter vessel which is part
of the cluster.
The daughter vessel shall provide rations, water, medic
medical
al assistance and fuel to all 10
mechanised boats time to time.
Catches in the mechanised boats shall be delivered to the daughter vessels and prices for
the same are credited to respective accounts from time to time.
Temporary storage will be done in the daughter vessel.
On reaching complete storage capacity of the daughter vessel, it shall deliver fish to the
mother vessel which is operating amidst 4 such clusters. Cleaning and processing are
done onboard the mother vessel.
Mother vessel may call a nearby fishing harbor on reaching storage capacity or deliver to
another vessel which comes alongside mother vessel at mid sea to receive the cargo as
export.

Mother vessel is connected to respective shore base station for receiving instructions on
climate, inclement weather conditions, and fish movements.

Fishing Cluster

Fishing Cluster
S.No. Details
1 Deep Sea Long Linear Boats (Fully Loaded)
2 Daughter Vessel with Temporary Cold Storage

Cost per
Unit (In
Crores)
1.20
5.00

No Of
Units
10.00
1.00

Total Costs
(In Crores)
12.00
5.00

Cost per
Unit (In
Crores)

No. of
Units

Cost per Unit
(In Crores)

17.00
50.00
5.00
2.00

4
1
1
1

Deep Sea Fishing Park
S.No. Details

1
2
3
4

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Fishing Cluster
Mother Processing Vessel
Base Station at location of Fishing Harbor
Misc

68.00
50.00
5.00
2.00
125.00

Two Deep Sea Fishing Parks can be introduced as Pilot Projects, one in Bay of Bengal
and another one in Gulf of Mannar. The approximate total cost to set up these two Deep
Sea Fishing Parks is around Rs. 250 crores.

Storage and Processing Center
+
Value addition

Amul like Branding and marketing of
Mookaiyur Fishing products in both
domestic and international markets.

+
Brand Building

The approximate total cost to set up the cooperative state of art center for fish processing center
at Mukhaiyur: Rs 100 crores.

6. Dry Dock at Mandabam:
There is a dormant dry dock facility available on the southern side of Mandapam. This facility has lain
idle for almost 30 years. If this facility is revived and controlled, it could easily be the trend setter of the
region in providing employment and business opportunities.

Approximate Project Cost – Rs.30 Crores
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7. Deepening of Pamban channel
The Pamban channel may be further deepened for the smooth flow of mechanised fishing boats
approaching the south sea. If the channel is deepened up to 8.0mtrs Tuticorin Coastal sailing vessel
industry can commence their Nagapatinam and up north commercial trips.

Approximate Project Cost – Rs.50Crores
8. Tourism Development:
Alternative employment generation which is naturally conducive to the traditional talent of the fishermen
community will ease the pressure on the fishing industry. There are 21 unmanned islands in the Gulf of
Mannar Sea which need to be studied for introducing water sports, scuba diving, aquarium and coral reef
site seeing. Local traditional fishermen should be encouraged to take up this as profession and business. It
is really untapped opportunity in tourism which will boost the economy of the region. Also included
could be a water sports academy.

Approximate Project Cost – Rs.250 Crores

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9. Algae and Seaweed Culture + Tank Fish Farming+ Ornamental Fisheries centers:

Seaweeds are one of nature's true wonder foods! They are one of the most nutritionally dense plants on
the planet and also the most abundant source of minerals in the plant kingdom as they have access to all
the nutrients in the ocean.
Palk Bay Region is best suited for the culture and harvesting of seaweed. This needs to be developed as a
small scale industry enables us to get employment and export business opportunity.

No

Category

1

Algae and Seaweed culture processing and 100 crores
branding

2

Tank Fish farming

100 crores

3

Ornamental fisheries

100 crores

Approximate Project Cost: Rs 300 crores

10. Fishermen Co-operative Bank:
Approximate Project Cost: Rs 100 crores
11. Hospital with state of art technology at Ramnad:
Approximate Project Cost: Rs 50 crores

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Budget

12. Formation of Coastal Cultural Heritage Centre:

Understand and respect the cultural heritage of the coastal communities.

Act as a bridge between coastal and non-coastal communities

Help policy planners understand the coastal communities

Promote sustainable fishing by understanding the ancient wisdom which has been passed
down through generations

Promote non-invasive & sustainable tourism in the coastal areas

Understand the history as well as learn lessons from the past

Contribute to the character of the coastal communities - sense of justice, sense of
belonging to the mainstream population

Documenting the oral histories of various coastal communities

Record folk tales, folk songs, music of coastal communities

Documenting the traditional knowledge on making of fishing tools, boats etc.

Ø This centre will also educate the fishermen on how to understand and absorb the Change in
their environment and how to adapt swiftly to meet the future.

Approximate Project Cost – Rs. 60 Crores

13. Indian Institute of Fisheries Management (IIFM) at Ramnad

Conduct socio economic and cultural studies

Recommend sea safety and responsible fishing techniques

Resource assessment for sustainable fishery and help policy and planning.

Approximate Project Cost – Rs. 50 Crores

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Total Budget for the Immediate and Permanent Solutions
a) Immediate Solution Budget

Particulars
Modernizing Pamban
Special diesel subsidy to existing fishermen at Thoothur region
Special grant for increasing freezing cap. to existing deep sea fishermen T region
Conversion of mechanized boats to Deep Sea Fishing at Palk Bay
Fibre boats to traditional fishermen at Palk Bay
NGO counseling for the conversion
Proper Registration and revision of existing documents
Friends of Coast guards creation with infrastructure
Safety Apparatus for fishermen on par with coastal security

in
Crores
30
17.4
58
540.5
7.5
10
3
20
5
691.40

b) Permanent Solution Budget

Particulars
Fishing Harbor at Mookaiyur, in Ramnad district
Coast Communication Device (CCD) for TN
Breakwater at Yervadi with Jetty
Breakwater at Pamban with Jetty
2 Deep Sea Fishing Parks
Processing/Branding Center at Mookaiyur
Dry Dock at Mandapam

Algae and Seaweed Culture + Tank Fish Farming+ Ornamental Fisheries center
Fishermen Co-opertive Bank
Hospital at Ramnad
Formation of coastal cultural heritage center
Indian Institute of Fisheries at Ramnad

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in
Crores
150
20
40
25
250
100
30
300
100
50
60
50
1175

F. Legislative Reconsiderations to be made

Act / Regulation

year

Remarks

Indian Fisheries Act

1897

Needs to be reviewed

Marine Fishing Regulation Act

1978

Guidelines on gear holding pattern, mesh sizes of nets ,
reservation zones and ban on fishing: all these are often
violated hence needs nation level debate and review.

Deep Sea Fishing Policy

1991


Allows foreign fishing vessels in Indian waters.
This policy has been practically scrapped in 1997
further action is pending.

Comprehensive Marine
Fisheries Policy

2004



In Shore [0 – 6NM]for Traditional Fishermen
Off Shore [6 -12 NM]for Mechanized Fishermen and
Deep sea [Beyond 12 NM] for Trawler Fishermen
should be established.
Less than 30.0 M depths should be reserved for
traditional fishing operations.

Maritime zone Act

1976

Needs review and amendment

Regulation of Fishing by Foreign
Vessels Act

1981

Needs review and amendment

Coastal Regulation Zone

1991

Needs review
Existing guidelines are affecting life of traditional
fishermen and their habitat. Needs review

Forest Conservation Act

Wild Life Protection Act

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1972


Amended in 1983,1986,1991,1997 and 2001
Needs to be reviewed and amended

G. CONCLUSION
The most immediate and urgent decision to be made is the following announcement by the Governments
of both India and Sri Lanka: Since the Palk Bay region suits only traditional fishing, it has to be
recognized and notified as an area of traditional fishing only. Apart from the governments bi-national
federations of traditional fishermen, community leaders from both countries need to be identified to
monitor the problems of traditional fishermen from both countries. They should hold summit meetings.
Palk Bay is an area of traditional fishing and that needs to be recognized with immediate effect. At the
same time Indian fishermen’s rights over their historical waters as per the 1974 agreement should be
reestablished. Creating innovative alternative employment opportunities and infrastructure conducive to
the traditional skills of the fishermen community will definitely ease the pressure on Palk Bay fishing
which in turn can reduce the quantum of the problem and given the very unique geo-bio features of Palk
Bay it can give a powerful boost to the economy.
According to the study made by Bharatha Culture and Heritage Trust (BCHT) the task of providing a
solution to the Palk Bay problem does not rest with the Government of India alone. It involves an
immediate and effective networking of coastal communities, central government and state government
executives and above all a clear coordinated vision incumbent all the players involved. For the traditional
fishermen, it is a livelihood problem; for their generations and for the Government it is a matter of
relations with a neighboring country as well as the protection and well-being of its coastal citizens. Indian
trawler commercial fishermen on Palk Bay need to understand the reality of the situation and sort out
differences of interests among themselves with regard to accepting alternate employment.
Palk Bay is basically a fishing area well adapted for sustainable eco-friendly traditional forms of fishing
and not at all suited for commercial trawler fishing. The latter’s misuse and overuse of this fragile ecosystem is the root cause of all problems the area faces today. Unfortunately, traditional fishermen of India
have to bear the worst effects of this misdeed. If we allow damaging and dangerous trawling in the Palk
Bay region, very soon the entire marine resource of the region will be depleted. It is in the hands of both
the Indian government and fishermen of the Palk Bay area to provide solutions which will end trawling
permanently in this region.
Finally, the entire 8118 km long coastline of India needs a separate and special cabinet ministry which
will focus on the problems and opportunities of Indian Fishing – making it an effective engine of the
economic development at the national level. Such an integrated approach alone will help avoid future
recurrences of problems such as the one we presently see in the Palk Bay region.
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