Beginning today Sri Lanka will auction 105 boats belonging to India’s Tamil Nadu fishermen.
Sri Lankan-Indian maritime relations have deteriorated over the past several years. At the center is the issue of fishing rights between northern Sri Lankan and Tamil Nadu fishermen. Tensions are particularly festering in the Palk Strait—wedged between Tamil Nadu and the Jaffna District of Sri Lanka.
The auction comes following clashes between Indian fishermen and the Sri Lankan Navy. Sri Lanka recently arrested 21 Indian fishermen for bottom-trawlers in Sri Lankan waters. Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin has expressed strong disapproval of the upcoming auctions given the financial loss to Indian fishermen.
The upcoming auction will likely put a strain on Tamil Nadu and Jaffna District relations rather than the bilateral relationship between the two countries. The Sri-Lankan government is focused on solving the island’s economic crisis; India is one of Sri Lanka’s most important and strategic partners so the relationship will likely remain amicable in the medium-term. In the long term, both governments will need to provide tangible solutions to ensure tensions do not escalate beyond the Palk Strait.
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Prior to joining Foreign Brief, Htet interned at the Karuna Center for Peacebuilding, where she worked on peacebuilding and conflict resolution efforts in Myanmar, Nigeria, and Ethiopia. During this time, she also oversaw and arranged program activities regarding Indigenous land issues in the Connecticut River Valley. In addition, she participated in the Young Professionals Program at the East-West Center where she wrote short articles on US-Asia local relations for the Asia Matters for America website. Htet is a current MA candidate at the Johns Hopkins University of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), focusing on Southeast Asia and international development, climate, and sustainability.