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Sri Lankan fishermen protest alleged Indian poaching in island waters

March 04, Colombo (LNW): Sri Lanka on Sunday (03) saw hundreds of Sri Lankan fishermen hailing from Jaffna, Mullaitivu, and Mannar districts staging a protest against their Indian counterparts, and accusing them of illegal fishing within Sri Lankan waters by sailing to the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) in their trawlers.

Expressing agitation over recurrent incidents of alleged illegal fishing by Indian fishermen, the Sri Lankan fishermen called upon authorities to intervene and prevent further incursions into their territorial waters.

They warned of escalating protests if the situation persisted unchecked.

In recent months, fisher organisations have organised various demonstrations, including protests outside the Indian consulate in Jaffna, underscoring the contentious nature of the issue in bilateral relations between India and Sri Lanka.

Tensions over fishing rights have led to confrontations, with Sri Lankan Navy personnel reportedly firing at Indian fishermen and confiscating their boats in instances of alleged incursions into Sri Lankan waters, particularly in the Palk Strait—a key fishing area shared by both nations.

Incidents of Sri Lankan authorities arresting Indian fishermen for trespassing the International Maritime Boundary Line and fishing in Sri Lankan waters have been periodic.

This month alone, over 40 Indian fishermen were apprehended by the Sri Lanka Navy.

In 2023, Sri Lanka’s Navy detained 240 Indian fishermen and 35 trawlers for alleged poaching activities within Sri Lankan waters, highlighting the ongoing challenges in managing fishing disputes between the two countries.

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