Sri Lankan navy arrests 54 Indian fishermen, seizes 5 trawlers
Colombo, March 25 (PTI) The Sri Lankan navy has arrested at least 54 Indian fishermen and seized five trawlers for poaching in the country’s territorial waters, an official statement said here on Thursday.
The navy arrested the fishermen on Wednesday off the northern and northeastern regions.
“After examining the impact of poaching of foreign fishermen in Sri Lankan waters on the local fishing community and the sustainability of Sri Lanka’s fishery resources, the navy conducts regular patrols to curb illegal fishing activities in the waters. Sri Lankan, ”the navy said in the statement.
The Navy caught a large Indian fishing boat with 14 personnel on board, about 3 nautical miles off Kovilan in Jaffna.
Two other Indian fishing vessels with 20 staff for trawling were stopped about 7 nautical miles off Pesalai, Mannar and 5 nautical miles off Iranativu Island, the statement said.
Two other Indian fishing vessels with 20 staff were stopped about 7.5 and 8.5 nautical miles off Mullaitivu. The two ships had entered Sri Lankan waters about 62 nautical miles, crossing the international border (IMBL) when the apprehension was made, the navy said in a statement.
The Navy said it had previously informed Indian authorities when similar incidents of trawling by Indian fishermen were reported.
“The illegal entry of foreign fishermen into Sri Lankan waters and the use of prohibited fishing methods like bottom trawling to catch even very small fish have seriously threatened the marine ecosystem and endanger livelihoods. fishermen in the northern part of the island ”.
Fishermen from both countries are frequently arrested for inadvertently entering each other’s waters. The issue of fishermen has become a major irritant in bilateral relations.
In January, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar visited Sri Lanka, met with Fisheries Minister Douglas Devananda and raised the issue of fishermen and reviewed bilateral cooperation in fisheries.
“We are looking forward to the early return of our fishermen from Sri Lanka,” Jaishankar said.
Later, a three-member committee was appointed by the Sri Lankan government that will make recommendations on measures to stop poaching by Indian fishermen in the country’s waters after four people were killed when an Indian trawler capsized after colliding with a Sri Lankan Navy vessel.
On January 18, the Sri Lankan Navy said it had seized Indian fishing trawlers poaching in Sri Lankan waters, bypassing the IMBL. The Navy said one of the Indian fishing trawlers, with aggressive maneuvering, attempted to escape the scene and collided with the working naval craft and eventually sank at sea after losing stability .
India has also vigorously protested with Sri Lanka the deaths of four fishermen in a collision between their vessel and a naval craft from 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 address the long-standing fishermen’s problem with a ” human approach ”. PTI CORR AMS AKJ AMS