Sri Lankan Navy in the early hours of Tuesday arrested seven Indian fishermen and seized two fishing trawlers for illegally fishing in the island’s territorial waters off Delft Island.
Sri Lanka Navy has assisted the Sri Lanka Coast Guard to these fresh group of Indian fishermen while poaching northwest of Delft Island.
“Having brought the arrested fishermen and trawlers to SLNS Elara in Karainagar, they were handed over to the Assistant Director of Fisheries, Jaffna for onward action,” the Navy said.
It has become a common occurrence for the Sri Lankan navy to arrest the Indian fishermen while poaching, detain them for few weeks and release them on humanitarian ground. But Sri Lanka does not return their fishing trawlers.
The fresh arrest has come barely week after new Chief Minister of South Indian state of Tamil Nadu, O Panneerselvam wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking his intervention to save Indian fishermen from the Sri Lanka Navy.
The New Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, who took over the office the previous week following the death Jayalalithaa Jayaram, had urged the Indian Prime Minister to “use diplomatic channels to curb such violent actions”.
He said it was important that the Centre acted decisively to ensure that the fishermen pursued their livelihood with freedom and peace of mind in the traditional waters of Palk Bay.
India shares an expansive oceanic border with Sri Lanka without any perceptible demarcation and fishermen on both sides, especially the Indians ignore rules while netting their catch.
A 11-member delegation of Sri Lankan fishermen arrived in New Delhi in November for talks with their Indian counterparts on resolving all issues related to fishing.
The governments of India and Sri Lanka subsequently agreed to set up a hotline between the coast guards and a Joint Working Group (JWG) on fisheries to meet every three months in a bid to address the long-pending issue.