Sri Lanka arrests 22 Indian fishermen

Colombo, Dec 29: The Sri Lanka Navy Sunday arrested 22 Indian fishermen for poaching in Sri Lankan waters, officials said.

A navy spokesman said the Indians were arrested in the northern seas and will be handed over to police, reported Xinhua.

The navy said the arrests were made after the Indian fishermen refused to return to Indian waters when they were spotted by navy boats.

Earlier this month, over 100 Indian fishermen were arrested when they entered Sri Lankan waters illegally and were remanded by a court.

According to the National Fisheries Solidarity Movement, 213 Sri Lankan fishermen and 43 fishing vessels are being held by the Indian authorities.

Fishermen from India and Sri Lanka crossing the international maritime boundary line dividing the two countries has become a sensitive political issue.

Sri Lankan fishermen say they face huge financial losses when Indian fishermen use trawlers and catch fish in Sri Lankan waters, leaving very little behind.

The Indian fishermen say they fish in the open seas and also claim rights to the sea surrounding a disputed island in Sri Lanka’s north which was handed over to Colombo by New Delhi in 1974.

Efforts are underway to hold talks between Indian and Sri Lankan fishermen next month in order to settle the dispute between fishermen from both the countries.

IANS