December 19, 2016 11:06:41 pm
There has been a 50 per cent drop in poaching by Indian trawlers in Sri Lankan waters due to enhanced patrolling by the Navy and coast guard, the country’s fisheries minister has claimed. The main reason for the decrease is the arrests made by Sri Lanka Navy and coast guard, Fisheries Minister Mahinda Amaraweera said while addressing a fishing event in the southwestern town of Warakapola on Sunday.
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Amaraweera said he was so informed by Sri Lankan coastal guards in the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL). “At least three Indian fishing boats enter Sri Lankan waters every week, which is nearly 5,000 fishing boats entering our waters illegally each year. This is a huge threat to the Sri Lankan fishing industry,” the minister said in the statement.
They harvested 6000 metric tonnes of fish causing Sri Lanka an annual loss of Rs 9000 million. This has now been reduced by 50 per cent, he said adducing the action by the Sri Lanka Navy and the coastal guard to arrest them as the reason for the drop. Till 2015 we released the Indian boats after seizing them. Since I became the fisheries ministers we have not allowed any release and have confiscated them, Amaraweera said. Indian fishermen practise bottom trawling, which entails scraping the seabed. This not only adversely impacts our marine ecosystem but also has a direct implication for the lives of fisherfolk in Sri Lanka’s Northern Province.
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India and Sri Lanka has set up a Joint Working Group (JWG) on Fisheries to meet every three months and hold a meeting between the Ministers for Fisheries every six months during extensive ministerial-level talks on possible mechanisms to find a permanent solution to the emotive issue of fishermen. Last month both governments agreed to the request by the fishermen associations that there should be no violence and no loss of life in the handling of fishermen by the Navies and Coast Guards of the two countries.
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