Bill proposes drasticfine for trespassing foreign boats

The Government has proposed a drastic increase in the fine for unauthorised foreign fishing boats trespassing the territorial waters of Sri Lanka under an Amendment Bill to the Fisheries (Regulation of Foreign Fishing Boats) Act.

The Bill is scheduled to be taken up for debate in Parliament on January 24.

The Bill proposes fines ranging from Rs.5-175 million depending on the length of the boat in metres or a jail sentence not exceeding two years.

Up to now the fine for the above offence was Rs 1.5 million. The fine applies to the master, owner and charterer, or any person on board of such boat. Any foreign fishing boat seized and detained or any abandoned foreign fishing boat and any person arrested will be brought to the nearest or most convenient port in Sri Lanka and produced before the nearest Magistrate.

The prosecution relating to any offence committed under the Act must be concluded within one month.

The minimum fine will be Rs 5 million for boats less than 15 metres, Rs 20 million for boats between 15 and 24 metres, Rs 100 million for boats between 24 and 45 metres, Rs 150 million for boats between 45 and 75 metres and Rs. 175 million for boats over 75 metres in length.

The Bill has further proposed to increase the fine for foreign fishing boats entering Sri Lanka waters without a permit to stow gear from Rs.750,000 to Rs. 3-150 million depending on the length of the boat in metres. The same ranges of fine apply for any foreign fishing boat used in the Exclusive Economic Zone of Sri Lanka without a valid permit.

All offences committed under the Act are cognizable and non-bailable. Boats and fishing gear etc will be retained until conclusion of the trial.

The release of abandoned foreign fishing boats along with fishing gear, fish, aquatic plants, equipment, stores, and cargo will be only after an inquiry.

Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development Minister Mahinda Amaraweera will move the Bill for debate in Parliament. This Bill coupled with the recently passed legislation banning bottom trawling, will discourage the intrusion of Indian fishermen in Sri Lanka waters. Thus it will address the long standing issue of illegal fishing by Indian fishermen trespassing into Sri Lanka waters. 

 

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