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‘Seized Indian fishing vessels will not be released’

Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Minister Mahinda Amaraweera yesterday said Indian fishing vessels taken into custody for crossing the Sri Lankan maritime boarder and bottom trawling would not be released under the Bottom Trawling Act and the proposed Foreign Fishing Boat Amendment Act.

Amaraweera said he informed the representatives of Central Government of India at the Indo-Lanka ministerial level meeting on the fishermen issue held in New Delhi that such vessels would not be released on humanitarian grounds in future.

"The Draft bill on Foreign Fishing Boat (Amendment Act) was approved by the Cabinet and it will be presented in Parliament soon," he said

Minister Amaraweera said the Sri Lankan delegation he headed apprised India Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Minister Radha Mohan Singh that Indian fishermen crossing the Sri Lankan maritime border and bottom trawling would be arrested and the practice would continue.

“Our discussion also focused on the arrest of Indian fishermen crossing the Sri Lankan maritime boarder and bottom trawling.

We were able to convince them that these fishermen are arrested for bottom trawling in the Sri Lankan territorial waters,” he said

He said the Indian delegation headed by Indian Minister Radha Mohan Singh informed him that the Indian Central Government has allocated Indian Rupees 15 billion to provide alternative livelihood to the fishermen involved in bottom trawling.

Amaraweera said the number of fishing vessels crossing the Sri Lanka water has reduced by 50 percent after adopting strict regulations by the Government.