Colombo, July 7 (IANS) The Sri Lankan government on Thursday said it will not release boats seized from Indian fishermen who were arrested for poaching in the island nation’s territorial waters.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said Indian fishermen will not be given fishing rights in Sri Lankan waters, Xinhua news agency reported.
He made this announcement in Parliament when the opposition questioned him about reports on whether Sri Lanka will allow Indian fishermen to fish in Sri Lankan waters.
“We will not allow Indian fishermen to fish in Sri Lankan waters,” Wickremesinghe said.
The Prime Minister said that bottom trawling by Indian fishermen in Sri Lankan waters was a serious issue.
He said this is affecting the livelihood of Sri Lankan fishermen in the north and east of the country as bottom trawling — a fishing method where a large net with heavy weights is dragged across the seafloor — causes extensive damage to fishing resources.
The Prime Minister said that talks on seeking a solution to the Indo-Lanka fishing issue has been held between the governments of Sri Lanka and India.
Wickremesinghe said several options were now being considered to resolve the issue and he hoped a final solution to the issue will be reached by the end of this year.
The Sri Lankan Navy on Thursday arrested 16 Indian fishermen for illegal poaching in Sri Lankan waters.