The Sri Lankan Navy has arrested nine Indian fishermen and seized two trawlers for allegedly poaching in the country's territorial waters, according to an official statement on Tuesday, in the second such incident this month.
The arrests were made near Delft Island, Jaffna. The fishermen, from Tamil Nadu, were apprehended on Monday, the Navy said.
"The Sri Lanka Navy and coast guard conducted a special operation to chase away Indian poaching trawlers from Sri Lankan waters on the night of July 24, the Sri Lankan Navy said in the statement.
"The operation led to the apprehension of two Indian trawlers with nine Indian nationals poaching in Sri Lankan waters off the Delft Island, Jaffna," the statement said.
The fishermen, belonging to Mandapam in the Ramanathapuram district, set sail for fishing on Monday morning and were apprehended on Monday night between Katchatheevu and Neduntheevu, a Tamil Nadu fisheries official said in Ramanathapuram.
The seized trawlers together with Indian fishermen were brought to the Kankesanthurai Harbour and they will be handed over to the Mailadi Fisheries Inspector for onward legal proceedings, the Navy said in the statement.
The Navy continues to conduct regular patrols and operations in Sri Lankan waters to curb illegal fishing practices of foreign fishing trawlers, the statement said.
The fishermen issue also came during talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Ranil Wickremesinghe during Sri Lankan President's visit to India last week.
"Today we also discussed the issues related to the livelihood of fishermen. We agree that we should proceed with a humane approach in this matter," Modi said in a Press Statement on July 21.
This was the second arrest of Indian fishermen in Sri Lankan waters during this month.
On July 9, the Sri Lankan Navy arrested 15 Indian fishermen on board two trawlers for allegedly poaching in the country’s territorial waters.
The fishermen issue is a contentious one in ties between the two countries.
There have been several alleged incidents of Sri Lankan Navy personnel even firing at Indian fishermen in the Palk Strait and seizing their boats.
The Palk Strait, which is a narrow strip of water separating Tamil Nadu from Sri Lanka, is a rich fishing ground for fishermen from both countries.
There have been periodic instances of Indian fishermen being apprehended by Sri Lankan authorities for allegedly crossing the International Maritime Boundary Line and fishing in Sri Lankan waters.
Illegal fishing in the Sri Lankan waters by Indian fishermen has been a recurrent problem despite many high-level talks held between the two sides.