Sri Lankan Navy arrests 10 Indian fishermen for alleged poaching into its territorial waters

Till date, SL Navy has seized 14 poaching trawlers, apprehended 93 Indian fishermen

Representational image | Reuters Representational image | Reuters

The Sri Lankan Navy has held 10 Indian fishermen and seized their trawler for allegedly poaching in the country's territorial waters, officials here said, in the third such incident in a month.

The fishermen were apprehended on August 7 off Alampil in Mullaitivu, the Sri Lanka Navy said in a press release on Monday. The detained fishermen are from Tamil Nadu.

The Navy said on Monday that it conducted a special operation to chase away a cluster of Indian trawlers, after having spotted they were engaging in illegal fishing in Sri Lankan waters off Alampil in Mullaitivu. The operation led to the seizure of an Indian trawler "that continued to remain in island waters, with 10 Indian fishers aboard", it said.

“The poaching trawler together with the 10 fishermen was brought to the port of Trincomalee and they will be handed over to the Assistant Directorate of Fisheries-Trincomalee through the Sri Lanka Coast Guard, for onward legal proceedings,” the release said.

The Lankan Navy, which conducts regular patrols and operations in the island's waters to curb illegal fishing practices by foreign fishing trawlers, has seized 14 Indian poaching trawlers and apprehended 93 Indian fishermen so far in 2023, it said.

Earlier on the night of July 24, the Lankan Navy arrested nine Indian fishermen and seized two trawlers for allegedly poaching in the country's territorial waters off the Delft Island in Jaffna.

In a similar incident on July 8, the Navy held 15 Indian fishermen on board two trawlers for allegedly poaching in the same area. They were released later and on July 27, the fishermen arrived at Chennai from Colombo.

Meanwhile, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M.K. Stalin on Monday requested External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar to intervene to secure the immediate release and repatriation of 19 Tamil Nadu fishermen who are in the custody of Sri Lankan authorities.

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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