- Fishing in the margins: North Sri Lankan fishers’ struggle for access in transboundary waters
- Award date
- 13 October 2016
- Document type
- PhD thesis
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR)
In this dissertation, I highlight the condition of a fisher population in post-war northern Sri Lanka whose access to fishing grounds has been structurally compromised. Decades of civil war in Sri Lanka (1983–2009) shattered the north Sri Lankan fisheries sector by destroying equipment, restricting operations, and displacing populations. Capitalising on the war-induced vacuum that occurred, the trawler fleet from the neighbouring Indian state of Tamil Nadu, expanded and became increasingly dependent on north Sri Lankan fishing grounds. After the war, restrictions were lifted, yet fishers in the Northern Province were not able to regain meaningful access to their fishing grounds as trawler intrusions continued.
In this dissertation I draw mainly on interactive governance theory (Kooiman 2003), political ecology (Peets and Watts 2004; Robbins 2012) and commons theory (Ostrom 1990; Agrawal 2003). My research, however, departs from two observations. First, despite unambiguous national, bilateral and international laws and agreements stipulating that fishing fleets have no right to operate in other nations’ waters, and despite pervasive coastguard and navy forces, about 2000 Indian trawlers continue to operate in large numbers in Sri Lankan waters. Second, despite the damages imposed on the north Sri Lankan fishers, who represent a quarter of the total population in the area, their collective mobilisation against these trawlers has been minimal. The overall research question guiding this dissertation therefore is: How is northern Sri Lankan fishers’ marginal access to Palk Bay fishing grounds (re)produced and contested and what does this imply for civil society efforts to improve multilevel transboundary fisheries governance practices?
- Research conducted at: Universiteit van Amsterdam
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