‘No Indian fishers will be allowed in SL water’


by Shamindra Ferdinando

Acting Foreign Minister Ajith P. Perera yesterday denied Indian media reports that Sri Lanka had agreed to allow Indian fishing vessels to enter the Sri Lankan waters 83 days per year for the next three years.

Minister Perera stressed that the government hadn’t changed its position on the contentious issue of poaching. The minister was responding to foreign media reports that Sri Lanka had agreed to share its waters with the Indian fishing fleet.

Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe had recently explained Sri Lanka’s position as regards the Tamil Nadu fishing fleet poaching on northern waters at the expense of local fishermen, Minister Perera said. Premier Wickremesinghe didn’t mince his words when he reiterated Sri Lanka’s right to discourage poachers, the minister said.

The Navy captured 54 poachers in 10 trawlers in the northern seas over the last weekend. They were handed over to the Indian Coast Guard at Indo-Lanka maritime boundary off Kankesanthurai on March 25.

Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera was not available for comment. he is in China with President Maithripala Sirisena.

Navy headquarters yesterday said that the navy hadn’t been informed of an agreement with Indian fishermen to allow poaching.

The Northern Provincial Council, too, wants the government to take tangible measures to prevent Tamil Nadu from depriving the northern fishermen of their livelihood.

Prime Minister Wickremesinghe is on record as having said recently that northern fishermen expressed displeasure over the government’s failure to halt poaching.

Political sources said that the issue would definitely come up during Premier Wickremesinghe’s three-day tour of the Northern Province beginning today (March 27).

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