Fishing row deepens: 40 more arrested

By Chris Kamalendran

At least 40 more Sri Lankan fishermen were arrested by Indian coastguards over the past few days as the dispute over fishermen of the two countries straying into each others territorial waters took a turn for the worse.

With the arrest this week the number of Sri Lankan fishermen in Indian custody rose to 99 and all of them are due to be charged with violating Indian maritime law. The Fisheries Ministry’s Additional Director Lal de Silva said they had asked the External Affairs Ministry to seek the early release of the fishermen.

“The Sri Lankan fishermen have apparently been poaching in the Indian territorial waters despite a ban on fishing in the area for two months for the breeding of fish. They have been warned that India is now strictly implementing the laws,” he said.

In a related development, four Indian fishermen who claimed their boat had capsized in Sri Lankan territorial waters off Nainathivu island in Jaffna have been arrested. They were produced before Kayts Magistrate Joy Mahadevan and remanded till June 16.

Both, India and Sri Lanka have been taking a tough stand on poaching after the two countries took up the issue during a Joint Working Group meeting on fisheries in New Delhi in April this year.

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