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Fishing Rights in Post-War Sri Lanka

Results of a Longitudinal Village Enquiry in the Jaffna Region

Author : Bavinck, Maarten

Acc. No: 1026-S

Category: Soft Documents

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Northern Sri Lanka has gone through a long period of civil war that has had significant impacts on the fishing economy. This paper presents ethnographic material from a longitudinal (1977-2013) study on fisheries regulation from a village in the Jaffna region. Starting from the observation that fisher law, which is based on old perceptions of territorial use rights, has survived the war, it investigates the manner in which the fisheries cooperative of Kadalur has reacted to three challenges occurring at various scale levels: (1) the incursion of a fleet of Indian trawlers into inshore waters, (2) the arrival of diving companies from southern Sri Lanka, and (3) the initiation of squid-jigging by local fishers. The cooperative responds differently to each of these challenges, seeking alliances with, but sometimes engaging in strong opposition to, military and civil authorities. The paper concludes that fisheries governance in northern Sri Lanka is murky and infected by various degrees of power struggle. A conspicuous feature, however, is that fisher organizations enjoy (varying extents of) space to articulate and implement their own perception of fishing rights. Source: Fishing rights in post-war Sri Lanka: results of a longitudinal village enquiry in the Jaffna region