Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa has said fishermen from India are destroying the environment by using massive bottom-trawlers, depleting all resources of fish, an act “we cannot tolerate.”
“Not one or two, but hundred trawlers” came towards Sri Lankan waters, he said in an interview with The Hindu on Tuesday. “They are bad for us, bad for the environment, bad for India, too,” he said, citing bottom-trawling as the reason for India losing “all its resources.”
Suggesting that Sri Lanka’s objection was more to the use of bottom-trawlers than to Indian fishermen crossing the International Maritime Boundary Line, Mr. Rajapaksa said he had always believed that fish did not have borders and fishermen followed fish.
The issue has been a matter of serious concern in the India-Sri Lanka relations. The countries are engaged in discussions, involving fishermen of both countries. The last round, held in Colombo in May, ended in a deadlock.
On Tuesday, the Sri Lankan Navy arrested six Indian fishermen off Thalaimannar. They have been remanded in custody in Anuradhapura until September 24. One trawler was seized, officials said.
Currently, there are 15 Indian fishermen and 65 trawlers in Sri Lankan custody.
Ahead of his meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi this May, President Rajapaksa ordered the release of all Indian fishermen.
Around Indian Independence Day in August, he ordered the immediate release of 94 fishermen.
(Courtesy: The Hindu)
“Will release fishermen, not trawlers”
by Suhasini Haidar and Meera Srinivasan
While Sri Lanka may release the Indian fishermen arrested on charges of illegal fishing, the government will not release the Indian trawlers in its custody, President Mahinda Rajapaksa has said.
Owing to the bottom-trawling fishing method used by the Indian fishermen, he said the Sri Lankan economy had suffered and the fishermen of the island’s Tamil-majority north and east had been hit hard. While releasing the Indian fishermen, Sri Lanka would not consider releasing the trawlers at the moment, he emphasised. “If I allow the boats to return, again they will return and do the same thing,” he told The Hindu in an interview on Tuesday.
President Rajapaksa said the fishermen who were released were “innocent daily wage labourers.”
(Courtesy: The Hindu)