Feb 20, Colombo: Sri Lankan authorities have taken a decision today (20) to impose a lifetime suspension on the licenses of skippers of fishing vessels engaged in human smuggling and other maritime illegal activities.
State Minister of Fishier and Aquatic Resources Development Dilip Wedaarachchi today instructed the Director General of the Department of Fisheries to arrange for the immediate drafting of laws and regulations necessary for the implementation of this ban.
The decision to ban the unscrupulous boat skippers for life was taken by the Minister during a meeting held at the Ministry auditorium today with the owners of multi-day fishing trawlers.
Secretary to the State Ministry of Fisheries W Sandanayaka, Director General of the Department of Fisheries Prasanna Geeganage, and Senior Officers of the Department, Multi-day trawler owners' association and multi-day trawler owners participated in the meetig presided over by the State Minister Wedaarachchi.
At the meeting, multi-day trawler owners pointed out that the skippers using their fishing vessels for illegal activities had created a serious problem for the fishing industry.
They pointed out that punishing the trawler owners for the illegal activities committed by the skippers is highly unfair and requested the Minister to set up a system to punish wrongdoers.
State Minister Wedaarachchi noting that it is not acceptable if the system implemented fails to punish the wrongdoers, assured the boat owners that he will take all possible measures to impose maximum punishment to the errand skippers and will introduce new laws, if necessary.
Minister of State Dilip Wedaarachchi emphasized that rackets being carried out by few unscrupulous people sacrificing the poor fishermen cannot be controlled without imposing tough penalties and strict laws need to be enacted against such activities on the request of the multi-day fishing trawler owners.
Recent investigations into an illegal migration attempt by Sri Lankans to Réunion have revealed that the boat skipper has been engaged in a human smuggling racket and had charged between Rs. 100,000 to Rs. 1 million each to smuggle the group to the French colony in Indian Ocean.