The Sri Lankan Navy has arrested 22 Indian fishermen and seized two fishing trawlers for allegedly poaching in the country's territorial waters, an official statement said on Thursday, the fourth such incident involving Indians in the island nation this month. The arrests were made in northern waters during a patrol carried out on February 23. They were indulging in bottom trawling, the Navy said.
“Considering the impact of foreign fishermen poaching in Sri Lankan waters on the local fishing community and threats to the biodiversity of the country's marine environment, the Navy has been conducting regular patrols and operations to curb such illegal activities of foreign fishermen in Sri Lankan waters," the Navy said in a statement.
This was the fourth arrest of the Indian fishermen in the Sri Lankan waters during this month. On February 13, the Navy arrested 12 Indian fishermen and seized two fishing trawlers. On February 8, the Navy arrested 11 Indian fishermen and seized three fishing trawlers and on February 1, twenty-one Indian fishermen were arrested.
The fishermen issue is a contentious one in ties between the two countries. The issue also figured in the talks between External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and his Sri Lankan counterpart G L Peiris last week during the latter's three-day official visit to India. The arrests of Indian fishermen come as the local immigration officials are making arrangements to repatriate 56 Indian fishermen who were arrested in December. The arrests of Indians and the local fishermen’s agitations seeking government action to stop Indian fishing boats have expanded over the last fortnight.
With PTI Inputs