Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development Minister Mahinda Amaraweera
said the Indian fishermen arrested by the Sri Lanka Navy on August 8 would be
released if an official request was made by the Central Government of India
through its High Commission in Colombo.
However, Amaraweera told Lanka media that the fishing equipment and boats
of the fishermen in custody would not be released.
Sri Lanka Navy, in two separate sweeps, arrested 49 Indian fishermen along
with 12 mechanised boats for poaching in Sri Lankan territorial waters and
engaging in illegal fishing on August 7th night and Tuesday 8th morning. The
arrest of these Indian fishermen was made by a Fast Attack Craft (FAC) attached
to the Northern Naval Command and Sir Lanka Coast Guard while on routine
Two of these Indian fishing trawlers were captured in the waters northwest
of the Delft Island and the rest were taken into custody in the seas north of
Kovilan Point. The trawlers and fishing gear are been brought to the naval base
SLNS Elara at Karainagar while the fishermen were taken to SLNS Uththara in
Kankesanthurai. The fishermen were handed over to the Assistant Fisheries
Director in Jaffna for further legal action.
The arrests were made close on the heels of Sri Lanka repatriating 77
Indian fishermen who were released from custody as a gesture of goodwill, after
detaining them for poaching in the country’s territorial waters.
Minister Amaraweera said the fishermen would not be released just because
the Indian fishermen held protests. They would be released after a formal
request and proper procedure would have to be followed.