Sri Lanka Navy arrests 54 Indian fishermen, seize 5 trawlers

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Colombo, Mar 25 (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 said on Thursday.

The Navy arrested the fishermen on Wednesday off the coast of northern and northeastern areas.

“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 said in the statement.

The Navy nabbed a large Indian fishing vessel with 14 personnel on board, about 3 nautical miles off the coast of Kovilan in Jaffna.

Two more Indian fishing vessels with 20 personnel for engaging in trawling were arrested about 7 nautical miles off Pesalai, Mannar and 5 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 said in a statement.

The Navy said it had previously informed the 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 has seriously threatened the marine ecosystem and endanger the livelihood of fishermen in the northern part of the island”.

In January, the Sri Lankan Navy arrested nine Indian fishermen and seized one mechanised boat for allegedly fishing in that country's waters. PTI CORR AMS AKJ AMS