Recently cleared of its own allegations of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, Sri Lanka now finds itself fighting a battle against thousands of Indian trawlers from the Tamil Nadu state of India, which allegedly commit IUU fishing violations in Sri Lankan waters with regularity and impunity.

A 2015 report by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nation’s Asia-Pacific Fishery Commission lists the Sri Lankan territorial waters in and around the Palk Strait (which separates northern Sri Lanka from southern India) as the fifth-largest IUU hotspot in Asia, ranked by both total catch and value. According to the FAO, the Sri Lankan Navy, satellite images and extensive reporting on the issue, thousands of trawlers from the Indian state of Tamil Nadu cross the straight regularly, using damaging methods such as bottom trawling to fish for shrimp and crab, without any established rights to the fishery or permission from the Sri Lankan government.

In response, Sri Lankan government officials, seafood business owners and local fishers have initiated a concerted campaign to raise awareness of the issue, with the hope of eventually curbing IUU fishing that is estimated to cost Sri Lanka as much as USD 42 million (EUR 38 million) annually.

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