The rapid transformation of the international system with the rise of Asia in terms of economic and military capabilities has shifted the attention back to the ‘Indian Ocean’.
The fact that it [Indian Ocean] carries 50 percent of international trade and that vital energy routes from West Asia and East Asia fall through it add on to the significance of the Indian Ocean. Executive Director, Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute for International Relations and Strategic Studies (LKIIRSS), Asanga Abeyagoonasekara said.
Abeyagoonasekara was delivering a speech at the Annual International Defense Symposium Session on Maritime Security organized by Sir John Kotalawala Defence Academy, Colombo held from August 22 – 23.
The speech: Sri Lanka occupies a significant place in the discourse on maritime security, partly owing to its geo-strategic location in the Indian Ocean as well as due to increasing interactions with China.
The fact that Southern Coast of Sri Lanka is the last land mass till Antarctica has attracted a lot of attention with the need to secure constant supply of energy to spur the economic growth of the emerging global markets.
Apart from the conventional maritime security issues such as the disputes over access to fisheries such as the case between the Northern Fishermen and those from South India, Sri Lanka is also facing the problem of human trafficking or the illegal migrants.
Moreover, the richness of the Sri Lanka’s exclusive economic zone is attracting outsiders, even outside from the South Asian region.
Sri Lanka posses an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of 530, 684 km². Much of it remains unexploited.
I understood the value of our EEZ during my five-year term as Chairman of Fishery Harbours Corporation.
We have to protect our valuable fisheries resource for our future generation from illegal poaching vessels, I managed to implement a vessel monitoring system to monitor the Tuna fish exporting boats at Mutwal Fishery Harbour during my time which needs to be developed further to multiday boats specially long lining vessels with definite collaboration with Navy and Coast Guard.
A fisheries management protection system (FMPS) should be implemented by local experts, which will meet international standards. Maximizing this resource calls for a comprehensive plan, allocation of adequate funds to acquire proper technology, to harness human capital and cooperation with regional as well as global players – the emphasis made by the Seychelles President during his lecture at Kadirgamar Institute on the need to further integration between the islands states is very important.
I am certain this important panel will educate all of us on Maritime Interest and National Security, IUU Fishing, Assistance of Sri Lankan coast guard and algorithm development for detection of attack craft within fishing clusters.