54 Indian fishermen arrested while poaching in Sri Lankan waters

54 Indian fishermen arrested while poaching in Sri Lankan waters

Sri Lanka Navy has intercepted 05 Indian fishing vessels along with 54 Indian nationals onboard while poaching close to Sri Lanka.

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.

During similar patrols, naval units attached to Northern Naval Command on Wednesday (24) nabbed a large Indian fishing vessel with 14 personnel onboard, about 03 nautical miles off the coast of Kovilan, Jaffna. 

The seized vessel had a steel hull which was 75ft long and 22ft wide and possessed an engine of approx. 280 hp, capable of harvesting a huge fish stock with its motorized trawls. Meanwhile, 1030kg of illegally caught fish and fishing gear used for the illegal act were also seized by the Navy.

Further, the North Central Naval Command took hold of 02 more Indian fishing vessels with 20 Indian nations onboard for engaging in trawling in Sri Lankan territorial waters about 7 nautical miles off Pesalai, Mannar and 5 nautical miles off the Iranativu Island. Along with the accused their fishing gear were also taken into naval custody.

In the same vein, the Eastern Naval Command seized 02 Indian fishing vessels with 20 Indian fishermen and their fishing accessories whilst trawling in the island’s waters about 7.5 and 8.5 nautical miles off Mullaitivu. The 02 vessels had trespassed into Sri Lankan waters about 62 nautical miles, crossing the International Boundary Line (IMBL) when the apprehension was made.

Thus, 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. 

Accordingly, the Navy has previously informed the Indian authorities when similar incidents of trawling by Indian fishermen were reported, realizing the damage it causes to the fisheries and marine environment of Sri Lanka.

All these patrols were carried out adhering to safety and health guidelines in place for the prevention of COVID-19 spread and 05 Indian fishing vessels along with 54 personnel will be handed over to relevant authorities for onward legal action, the navy said.