Colombo, Dec 20 (NIA) – The Sri Lanka Navy, assisted the Sri Lanka Coast Guard to arrest seven Indian fishermen who were poaching illegally in the northern seas of the island country on Monday, the navy media unit said here.
Two Indian fishing trawlers were also taken into custody.
The fishermen were arrested Northwest of Delft Island, and were handed over to the Assistant Director of Fisheries, Jaffna for onward action, the navy said.
Sri Lanka’s Fisheries Minister, Mahinda Amaraweera said on Monday that there had been a 50 percent drop in poaching by Indian trawlers in Sri Lankan waters due to enhanced patrolling by the Sri Lankan Navy and coast guard.
The main reason for the decrease is the arrests made by Sri Lanka Navy and coast guard, the Minister said, in a statement.
“At least three Indian fishing boats enter Sri Lankan waters every week, which is nearly 5,000 fishing boats entering our waters illegally each year. This is a huge threat to the Sri Lankan fishing industry,” Amaraweera said.
They harvested 6000 metric tonnes of fish causing Sri Lanka an annual loss of Rs 9000 million.
The Minister further said that Sri Lanka and India will have more talks next month to seek a solution on the long standing dispute between Indian and Sri Lankan fishermen.
He said the Indian Foreign Minister and Fisheries Minister were expected to attend the talks in Colombo next month.
Asked about the threat to impose a fine of LKR 150 million (INR 7 crore) on intruding fishermen, an official told Express that there is no rule or law as yet to slap that kind of fine. But the Sri Lankan government is working on a law to impose a “heavy fine” on fishermen who poach in Sri Lankan waters. The threat to impose a fine of LKR 150 million was made orally some time ago by the Fisheries Minister Mahinda Amaraweera.
So far, the Sri Lankan government has been arresting and jailing intruding Tamil Nadu fishermen and impounding their boats. While they release the fishermen when the Tamil Nadu and Indian governments ask for it, the boats are not released. As of now, there are 152 Indian boats in Sri Lankan custody.