Rape of Lanka’s seas worsens
As the Sri Lankan Government looks the other way, poaching by Indian fishermen in Sri Lankan waters in the Palk Strait has taken a serious turn with the use of “pair trawling” where two steel hull boats scrape the sea bottom.
Navy Commander Ravindra Wijegunaratne confirmed that the new method, now in operation, destroyed marine resources more rapidly. Earlier, the Indian fishermen had been using nets drawn only by a single trawler and that too within Sri Lankan territorial waters.
Last Monday, the Sunday Times saw how a large number of Tamil Nadu fishing boats were on the Sri Lankan side of the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) carrying out bottom trawling. This was during a visit to the frontal areas in the sea with a Navy patrol.
Navy patrols are under strict orders not to fire at Tamil Nadu fishing boats. However, they have been rounding up some of the poachers and seizing their boats. A Navy official said more than 80 boats were now in Navy custody and more than 1,200 fishermen had been arrested during the past two years. They have been released at various stages on the orders of the Colombo Government.
Navy officials say that in addition to the severe damage caused to Sri Lankan marine resources, at least one of the Indian fishing craft had rammed a patrol boat. The Indian fishermen also manoeuvre their boats to entangle patrol craft in their nets.