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Jan 03, 2017

India, Sri Lanka intensify naval patrolling to tackle poaching

India and Sri Lanka have agreed to intensify cooperation on patrolling and to institute periodic interaction between the Coast Guard of the two countries to tackle fishermen’s poaching issue which violates territorial waters of both countries.

Minister of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare of India Radha Mohan Singh met with Minister for Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development of Sri Lanka Mahinda Amaraweera exchanged views on possible mechanisms to help find a permanent solution to the fishermen issues.

An understanding was reached at the Ministerial level talks on fishermen issues in Colombo on Monday the 02 of January 2017 to ensure that there was no physical harm or loss of life while apprehending fishermen by Navy and Coast Guard of the two countries, Indian diplomatic sources said.

It was agreed to explore the possibility of introducing effective tracking systems for the fishing vessels and making the use of onboard communication equipment mandatory, Indian High Commission spokesperson disclosed.

Sri Lankan studies estimate that an average of 1,056 Indian boats cross into Sri Lankan waters illegally, which means $ 19.72 million is lost from their shrimp catch alone.

In total Indian fishermen poach at least 65 million kilograms of fish each year. Satellite images suggest that the poaching is done in a highly-organised manner as the bulk of the boats operate in the night and scramble across the international maritime boundary line by four in the morning, Fisheries Ministry officials said.

Both sides discussed the issue of releasing fishing vessels in each other’s custody. The Indian side requested for the immediate release of Indian fishing vessels. The Sri Lankan side agreed to consider the request in view of the progress being made by the Joint Working Group (JWG) on fisheries.

The Sri Lankan side reiterated that the practice of bottom trawling needs to end at the earliest. The Indian side assured that bottom trawling would be phased out in a graded time-bound manner within a practicable timeframe keeping in mind the capacity building of the fishermen who have to be diversified into deep sea fishing as well as other coastal fisheries activities including mariculture, pearl farming, seaweed culture, etc.

The Sri Lankan side was briefed about the measures already instituted including the decision to construct a new fishing harbour at Mookaiyur in Ramanathapuram district of Tamil Nadu, and the capacity building programme for Indian fishermen on deep sea fishing that commences Tuesday 03 of January 2017 at Chennai and Kochi.

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