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Sri Lanka detains 32 India fishermen for poaching

March 4, 2014

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — Sri Lanka’s navy said Tuesday it has detained 32 Indian fishermen who were fishing illegally in Sri Lankan territorial waters less than two months after the two countries agreed to work together to combat poaching.

The fishermen were detained off Sri Lanka’s northern coast on Monday and were handed over to the fisheries department for legal action, the navy said in a statement.

It said the fishermen “were poaching well within Sri Lanka’s territorial waters despite the recent talks held between the two neighboring countries to refrain from illegal methods of fishing and restrict fishing to own waters.”

In January, fisheries ministers from the two nations held talks in New Delhi on the release of detained fishermen and long-term measures to prevent unlawful fishing in each side’s waters. As a result of the talks, 283 Indian and 181 Sri Lankan fishermen who were held in the two countries were released.

Despite the meeting, poaching has continued and both sides have arrested more fishermen accused of illegal fishing.

Sri Lankan authorities have now detained 148 Indian fishermen and India has detained 25 Sri Lankans since the January talks, Fisheries Ministry spokesman Narendra Rajapakse said.

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