The Sri Lankan government on Tuesday said it has refused to agree to a proposal from India to allow Indian fishermen to catch fish in Sri Lankan waters. Fisheries minister Mahinda Amaraweera said that India had requested Sri Lanka to allow Indians to catch fish for 65 days a year in Sri Lankan waters in an attempt to resolve the India-Sri Lanka fishing issue.
However, Amaraweera said he refused to agree to the proposal which had come through the Indian high commission in Colombo, Xinhua news agency reported. “Not 65 days, we will not agree for even 65 hours,” the minister said.
He said Indian fishermen use bottom trawling and that method is harmful to Sri Lanka’s fishing resources. Sri Lanka and India have had several rounds of talks in an attempt to resolve the fishing issue but have failed to reach a final solution.
Indian fishermen often stray into Sri Lankan waters to catch fish as Sri Lanka has rich fishing resources. However, hundreds of Indian fishermen have been arrested by the Sri Lankan navy over the years for allegedly poaching in Sri Lanka.
Amaraweera said the navy has been instructed to continue arresting Indian fishermen who poach in Sri Lankan waters. He added that local fishermen are still using dynamite to catch fish at some locations. Amaraweera said the ministry of defence has been instructed to initiate legal action against fishermen using explosives as it was against the law. (TOI)