Colombo:At least 37 Indian fishermen were arrested by Sri Lankan navy yesterday for allegedly poaching in the country's waters, a day after President Maithripala Sirisena said he had issued instructions to seize boats that violate the country's territorial waters.
Sri Lankan Naval spokesman Commander Indika Silva said 37 Indian fishermen were arrested and five boats were seized off the island's northern coast in Point Pedro this evening. The fishermen have been taken to Kankesanturai port for further action, Silva said.
Dismissing opposition's claim that his government has given fishing rights to Indians, Sirisena last night said he had issued clear instructions to the navy to seize boats that violate the country's territorial waters.
"We have not allowed fishing in our waters for the Indians. I have given clear instructions to navy to arrest boats or trawlers that violate our water limits," Sirisena told a gathering of fishing industry and political representatives last night.
Opposition group National Freedom Front had alleged that the government had given fishing rights to Indians in Sri Lankan waters as an appeasement policy towards India. The two countries held fishermen-level talks in Chennai last month.
The Indian fishermen had reportedly called for 83 days per year for three years to fish in the Palk Strait, the narrow sea strip separating the two countries.