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Comprehensive report to be be devised to address illegal fishing in Sri Lanka

By: Staff Writer

April 07, Colombo (LNW): The Sectoral Oversight Committee on Alleviating the Impact of the Economic Crisis, this week requested a comprehensive report containing recommendations to address illegal fishing issues be submitted to Parliament promptly.

The meeting Chaired by Gamini Waleboda, convened recently at Parliament, delved into addressing the pressing concerns within the fishing community.

Representatives from the Fisheries Ministry, State institutions under the purview of the Ministry and members of the North East fishing community were in attendance.

During the meeting, fishermen from the North raised concerns about the detrimental effects of illegal encroachment by Indian fishermen along the Northern coast.

They highlighted how this activity has severely impacted their livelihoods and emphasized the urgent need to assess the damage caused to marine resources due to trawling methods employed by Indian fishermen.

Expressing dissatisfaction with the lack of surveys conducted on marine resources in the north, Committee Chair Waleboda instructed the Fisheries Ministry Secretary to collaborate with relevant stakeholders to prevent illegal fishing activities in the region.

Additionally, discussions centered on the import of fish for re-export, with concerns raised about the potential negative consequences for the local fishing industry.

Committee members highlighted the risk of imported fish affecting the reputation of Sri Lankan fish in the international market and stressed the loss of tax revenue resulting from such imports. Of particular concern was the importation of prawns known to carry diseases, which has had a detrimental impact on local shrimp production.

In response, the Committee instructed the Fisheries Ministry to convene discussions with relevant stakeholders immediately to address this issue and make informed decisions regarding fish imports.

The fishermen issue is a contentious one in the ties between India and Sri Lanka, with Lankan Navy personnel even firing at Indian fishermen in the Palk Strait and seizing their boats in several alleged incidents of illegally entering Sri Lankan territorial waters.

The Palk Strait, a narrow strip of water separating Tamil Nadu from Sri Lanka, is a rich fishing ground for fishermen from both countries.

Fishermen from both countries are arrested frequently for inadvertently trespassing into each other’s waters.

In 2023, the island nation’s Navy arrested 240 Indian fishermen along with 35 trawlers for allegedly poaching in Sri Lankan waters.

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