Colombo: The Sri Lankan Navy has arrested at least 15 Indian fishermen and seized their two trawlers for allegedly poaching in the country’s territorial waters, an official statement said on Sunday.
The fishermen were arrested on Saturday off Talaimannar, a settlement located on the northwestern coast of Mannar Island, the Navy said in the statement.
The fishermen, who remain in naval custody in Talaimannar, will be handed over to the fisheries inspector, it said.
Illegal fishing in the Sri Lankan waters by Indian fishermen has been a recurrent problem despite many high-level talks held between the two sides.
The latest arrest came as Sri Lanka and India held talks on the international maritime boundary challenges between the two South Asian nations on board a Sri Lanka Naval craft.
The 32nd international maritime boundary line meeting had discussed the roles of the two Navies and their coast guards, the Navy said.
The fishermen issue is a contentious one in the ties between India and Sri Lanka, with the 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’s territorial waters. The Palk Strait, which is a narrow strip of water separating Tamil Nadu from Sri Lanka, is a rich fishing ground for fishermen from both countries.
There have been periodic instances of Indian fishermen being apprehended by Sri Lankan authorities for allegedly crossing the International Maritime Boundary Line and fishing in Sri Lankan waters.