By Easwaran Rutnam
The Navy says it has not been told to suspend arresting Indian fishermen who poach in Sri Lankan waters.
Sri Lanka Navy Media Spokesman Captain Indika de Silva told Daily Mirror that the Navy will arrest any foreign boat that crosses into Sri Lankan waters illegally.
Asked if the Navy has been informed of any policy decision taken by the Government to suspend the arrest of Indian fishermen, the Navy Spokesman said that they have not been informed.
Sri Lanka had freed 54 Indian fishermen arrested by the Navy last week for poaching in Sri Lankan waters.
Officials released 40 fishermen on Friday and 14 on Saturday.
The Navy had arrested 54 Indian fishermen and detained five boats for poaching in Sri Lankan waters last week.
The Sri Lanka Navy had said that the arrest was made on Wednesday in separate areas in the Northern seas.
“Having considered the impact of foreign fishermen poaching in Sri Lankan waters on the local fishing community and the sustainability of fishery resources of Sri Lanka, the Navy is conducting regular patrols to curb illegal fishing activities in Sri Lankan waters,” the Navy had said.
The Indian High Commission in Colombo had later issued a statement saying that it had been informed about the apprehension of 54 Indian fishermen and five boats from India by the Sri Lanka Navy on the night of 24 March 2021.
“We reiterate that issues associated with Indian fishermen are to be dealt in a humanitarian manner,” the High Commission said.
It said that providing immediate consular access and emergency supplies to apprehended fishermen are of prime importance.
“We are working with Government of Sri Lanka for expeditiously securing consular access for these fishermen,” the Indian High Commission had said.
The High Commission noted that bilateral mechanisms are in place to comprehensively address all matters related to fisheries.
“It may be recalled that the fourth meeting of the Secretary-level JWG was held on 30 December 2020 through virtual mode,” the Indian High Commission said.
India noted that follow-up measures on the basis of discussions which took place during the meeting need to be taken forward quickly. (Colombo Gazette)