Until 2013 the application of Sri Lanka’s legal framework for fisheries was limited to fishing activities conducted with the Exclusive Economic Zone of Sri Lanka (EEZ). However due to the build-up of a fleet of multi-day fishing boats which have started conducting fishing operations in the high seas beyond the boundary of the EEZ the need arose for controlling and managing high seas fishing. One of the main factors that necessitated such management was that Sri Lanka has subscribed to a number of international conventions and agreements on fisheries which have been enacted under the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea.
As a state which has subscribed to a number of international agreements and conventions on high seas fishing, Sri Lanka stands obliged to comply with requirements and provisions in those agreements. As a result of certain deficiencies in complying with such requirements, Sri Lanka has lost its right to export fish to its most important market namely, countries in the European Union from January 2015. This export has very adversely affected the country’s economy in general and the fishing communities and the export business establishments in particular. Therefore Sri Lankan Fisheries Management Authorities were given the task of establishing the procedures and management measure that would assist to establish responsible fisheries cultures which also help to revoke the EU fish export ban.
Accordingly, a number of policy decisions were taken, new management procedures were developed to control activities of fisheries vessels at high seas to ensure that the fisheries activities are not carried out in an illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) manner. These processes were fairly new to Sri Lankan culture and can be considered as a novel level of knowledge. However conveying the knowledge to the stakeholders especially for the fisheries officers is a challenge. Although many training sessions were carried out, it was decided that having a comprehensive and user-friendly guide would assist relevant officers and stakeholders to follow the correct procedures so that the coordination process will be facilitated.
The sole focus of this exercise is to encourage officers and stakeholders to establish a responsible fisheries culture in Sri Lankan Fisheries sector.
Watch video on High Seas Fisheries Management Process of Sri Lanka