Sri Lanka gets tough on illegal Indian fishermen

Source:Xinhua Published: 2013-8-22 18:17:29

After facing heavy losses from poaching, the Sri Lankan government is clamping down on illegal Indian fishing with a court extending the remand of 41 fishermen here on Thursday.

The 41 fishermen were arrested by the Sri Lankan navy in two groups on July 5 and Aug. 5 and will be held in two prisons.

Mannar District Judicial Magistrate Ananthi Kanagarrathinam extended their stay till Aug. 29.

Sri Lanka's Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne during a press conference defended the tough stance as the industry loses an estimated 78.9 million US dollar worth of fish from illegal poaching from south India.

The Sri Lankan government has targeted 500 million US dollars in revenue for 2013.

"We estimate that an average of 1056 Indian boats cross into our waters illegally. If you calculate their catch we lose 19.72 million dollars from their shrimp catch alone. In total they poach at least 65 million kilograms of fish each year."

These numbers have left Sri Lanka with little choice but to clamp down on Indian fishermen, the minister insisted, adding that he has sought advice from the Attorney General regarding confiscation of boats and heavy fines.

Currently Sri Lanka earns around 250 million US dollars annually from fish exports, out of which 48 percent are earnings from tuna. Last year Sri Lanka captured 486,000 metric tons of fish, according to government records.

Europe usually purchases around 38 percent of Sri Lanka's fish exports but this amount has fallen to 33 percent last year with Japan increasing its stake from 37 percent to 47 percent and US buying 17 percent.

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