Sri Lanka Navy arrests 54 Indian fishermen, seizes five trawlers
(Sourced from PTI)
The Sri Lankan Navy has arrested at least 54 Indian fishermen and seized five trawlers for allegedly poaching in the country's territorial waters, an official statement released in Colombo on Thursday said. The Navy arrested the Indian fishermen on Wednesday off the coast of northern and northeastern areas, the statement said.
"Having considered the impact of foreign fishermen poaching in Sri Lankan waters on the local fishing community and the sustainability of fishery resources of Sri Lanka, the Navy is conducting regular patrols to curb illegal fishing activities in Sri Lankan waters," the Navy stated.
The Navy nabbed a large Indian fishing vessel with 14 personnel on board, about three nautical miles off the coast of Kovilan in Jaffna. "Two more Indian fishing vessels with 20 personnel for engaging in trawling were arrested about seven nautical miles off Pesalai, Mannar, and five nautical miles off the Iranativu Island," the statement said.
"Two more Indian fishing vessels with 20 personnel were arrested about 7.5 and 8.5 nautical miles off Mullaitivu. The two vessels had trespassed into Sri Lankan waters about 62 nautical miles, crossing the International Boundary Line (IMBL) when the apprehension was made," the Navy stated.
Fishermen from both countries are arrested frequently for inadvertently trespassing into each other's waters. The fishermen issue has become a major irritant in bilateral ties. In January, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar visited Sri Lanka and met with Fisheries Minister Douglas Devananda. He raised the fishermen issue and reviewed bilateral cooperation in fisheries.
On January 18, the Sri Lankan Navy said that they seized Indian fishing trawlers allegedly poaching in Sri Lankan waters, trespassing the IMBL. The Navy said one of the Indian fishing trawlers, with aggressive maneuvers, attempted to evade the scene and collided with the Naval craft in operation and ultimately sank at sea having lost its stability.
India also lodged a strong protest with Sri Lanka over the death of four fishermen in a collision between their vessel and a naval craft of the island nation. Additionally, during his five-day visit to India in February last year, Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi agreed to resolve the long-festering fishermen issue with a "humane approach."