22 Indian fishermen arrested for poaching in Sri Lanka's territorial waters

The Sri Lanka Navy conducted a special operation to chase away Indian trawlers

SRI LANKA-RIGHTS/UN Sri Lanka flag | Reuters

The Sri Lankan Navy has arrested 22 Indian fishermen on board four trawlers for allegedly poaching in the country's territorial waters northwest of Delft Island, Jaffna, officials said on Thursday.

The Sri Lanka Navy conducted a special operation to chase away Indian trawlers engaged in illegal fishing in Sri Lankan waters late on Wednesday, a statement by Lanka Navy said.

The fishermen from Tamil Nadu, reportedly hailing from Ramanathapuram, Pudukottai and Nagapattinam districts, were picked up from near Neduntheevu late on Wednesday, and four boats were also seized, it said.

They were later taken to Kankesanthurai harbour and handed over to the Mailadi Fisheries Inspector for further legal action.

The Navy conducts regular patrols and operations in Sri Lankan waters to curb illegal fishing practices of foreign fishing trawlers.

Dr S Ramadoss, founder of the political party Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) in Tamil Nadu, has slammed the arrest of the fishermen from the state by the Sri Lankan Navy.

In a tweet, he said an Indo-Lanka joint panel formed to discuss various matters, including the fishermen issue, should be convened immediately to find a lasting solution to the apprehension of Indian fishers.

The fishermen issue is a contentious one in the ties between India and Sri Lanka, with the Lankan Navy personnel even firing at Indian fishermen in the Palk Strait and seizing their boats in several alleged incidents of illegally entering Sri Lankan's territorial waters.

The Palk Strait, which is a narrow strip of water separating Tamil Nadu from Sri Lanka, is a rich fishing ground for fishermen from both countries.

There have been periodic instances of Indian fishermen being apprehended by Sri

Lankan authorities for allegedly crossing the International Maritime Boundary Line and fishing in Sri Lankan waters.

Illegal fishing in the Sri Lankan waters by Indian fishermen has been a recurrent problem despite many high-level talks held between the two sides. 

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