(UDHAYAM, COLOMBO) – There has been a 50 percent reduction in incidents of poaching by Indian fishermen in Sri Lankan waters, Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Minister Mahinda Amaraweera said yesterday (03rd Friday).
“We have seen fewer cases of bottom trawling ever since we increased the arrests of Indian fisher boats. This has been especially effective since we decided not to return the boats. Earlier, even though the boats were confiscated, they were returned, so trawling continued,” the minister said addressing a media briefing at the ministry.
“Since 2014, Sri Lanka has refused to release over 100 trawlers that encroached into Sri Lankan waters.
On January 25, an Indian court directed the central government of India to take appropriate measures within two months to retrieve the Indian fishermen’s boats seized by the Sri Lankan Navy,” the minister said.
Minister Amaraweera however rejected such an order and pointed out that it bore no jurisdiction over Sri Lanka, “The government will stand firm on its decision not to return boats,” he said.
“We held several discussions with India last year and the central government agreed that the practices of their fishermen were illegal. They also agreed not to register any new trawlers,” Amaraweera said.
According to the minister, the Indian government’s initiative to provide alternative livelihoods to those engaging in bottom trawling has also greatly helped in reducing poaching in Lankan waters.
“They have diverted around 92 boats into other areas,” the minister said.