Oct 17, Trincomalee: Sri Lankan Navy arrested 32 Indian fishermen from Tamil Nadu on Thursday (17th October) for allegedly poaching in Sri Lankan waters and seized their boats.
The Navy said naval personnel attached to the Eastern Naval Command on routine patrol arrested the 32 Indian fishermen in four trawlers engaged in illegal fishing in the Eastern Seas of Sri Lanka.
The arrested fishermen will be handed over to Trincomalee Harbor Police for legal action.
The arrest comes two days after the Sri Lanka Navy in two separate instances arrested 37 fishermen from Tamil Nadu off Thalaimannar and the Deft Islands on Monday.
Indian fishermen from Tamil Nadu despite numerous arrests by the Navy continually violate the international maritime boundary line and poach in Sri Lankan waters depriving the Sri Lankan fishermen of their livelihood resources.
The issue has become a serious problem for both governments and soured the relations between the two countries.
Sri Lanka's Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Minister Rajitha Senaratne has told The Hindu on Thursday that when Sri Lankan fishermen were arrested by India the Sri Lankan government does not force India to release them since they (Sri Lankan fishermen) have engaged in an illegal activity and will have to face the consequences.
However, India pushes Colombo through diplomatic means to get the Indian fishermen released early.
The Sri Lankan government has recently adopted a new policy of detaining Indian fishermen arrested for poaching in Sri Lankan waters for a long time and confiscating their boats to deter the Indian fishermen from trespassing into Sri Lankan waters.
Minister Senaratne has said that India is yet to get back on its promise of facilitating talks between fishermen of both countries.
"Importantly, India has to host a meeting of the Joint Working Group on fisheries soon," the Minister was quoted.
During India's External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid recent visit to Sri Lanka Minister G.L. Peiris explained to his Indian counterpart that the issue of illegal poaching by Indian fishermen in Sri Lankan waters is a cause for great concern for Sri Lanka.
He told Khurshid that given the high incidence of poaching in Sri Lankan waters by Indian fishermen a large amount of time and effort is being spent on addressing the issue and stressed the need for a deterrent as it directly affects the lives of Sri Lankan fisher communities.
Both ministers agreed to encourage fishermen's associations on both sides, which had met in the past and reached some understandings, to meet again to work on resolving the issue.
Minister Senaratne has pointed out that the Joint Working Group, which was set up by both governments to find long-term solutions to the issue of poaching, is expected to meet once in six months, with representatives from both countries.
However, Sri Lanka held the last meeting in January 2012 and it's India's turn now to hold the meeting but it was delaying the process, the Minister has told The Hindu.
Sri Lankan Navy spokesman Kosala Warnakulasuriya has told The Hindu that the Navy, over the last few weeks, observed an increase in the number of trawlers that came into Sri Lankan waters both, near the north-western and northern-eastern seas.