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Northern Fishermen Seek Tougher Action

Fishermen leaders of Northern Sri Lanka have sought legal action to deter Indian fishermen from illegal fishing in Sri Lankan waters, The Hindu newspaperREPORTED.
They said Indian fishermen — apprehended by the Sri Lankan Navy for fishing illegally in Sri Lankan waters — were handed over to the police or the Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources and produced before the nearest magistrate court. They were subsequently charged under Section 45 of the Immigration and Emigration Act, and remanded for illegally entering Sri Lanka without a visa, and not for fishing illegally, they said in an October 16 petition.
“We appreciate the court’s decision to release the fishermen while detaining their trawlers. This has brought down the number of Indian trawlers coming to our waters, but appropriate legal provisions have to be used,” said Mohamed Alam, of the Mannar District Fishermen’s Cooperative Society Union, who along with Anthony Emiliyanpillai, president of the Fishermen’s Cooperative Society Union, petitioned the Attorney-General’s office.
They said a long-term solution to the persistent issue of Indian trawlers allegedly poaching in Sri Lankan waters and engaging in bottom trawling would REQUIRE a more focused legal approach. They urged the courts to use specific provisions of the Sri Lanka’s Fisheries (Regulation of Foreign Fishing Boats) Act of 1979.
Fishermen in the Tamil-majority Northern Province are among the worst hit by the Indian trawlers that allegedly fish illegally along their coast.
The fisheries conflict across the Palk Bay has been a major challenge before the two countries, with talks at various levels having failed to yield a solution.
Currently, 24 Indian fishermen and 76 trawlers are in Sri Lankan custody.