Sri Lanka increases fine on illegal fishing to LKR 1.75 to prevent foreign vessels from entering Lankan waters

Colombo: Sri Lanka has increased by over 100 times the fine on foreign vessels to deter them from fishing in its waters, amid the dispute over the frequent entry of Indian fishing trawlers into the country's maritime territory.

Sri Lankan parliament has approved the amendments (to the Foreign Fisheries boats Regulation Act) to increase fines on foreign vessels poaching in the country's waters, Minister of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development Mahinda Amaraweera  said on Friday.

 Sri Lanka increases fine on illegal fishing to LKR 1.75 to prevent foreign vessels from entering Lankan waters

Representational image. Reuters

The draft Bill for amending the Fisheries Act No 59 of 1979 (Foreign Fisheries boats Regulation Act) was presented in Parliament for approval on Wednesday. The Act aims to prevent illegal fishing activities in the Sri Lankan waters and protect the fisheries and aquatic resources of the country's coastal belt.

"The previous fine of 1.5 million Sri Lankan Rupees was no deterrent. Foreign vessels did not fear facing such a small
fine," Amaraweera said.

The Minister said that the new fine amount would mean that any foreign fishing vessels entering Sri Lankan waters
would be subject to a minimum fine of 6 million Sri Lankan Rupees and a maximum of 175 million Sri Lankan Rupees. Under the new amendment, the amount of fine on foreign fishing boats would be proportional to their length.

The move comes amid frequent straying of fishermen from India and Sri Lanka into each others' waters, creating diplomatic difficulties. This month, the Sri Lankan Navy had arrested a total of 37 Indian fishermen, mostly from Tamil Nadu, for fishing off Neduntheevu and Katchatheevu islets in the north.

The arrest of Indian fishermen has become a flash point in the relations between the two countries.

According to the new rule, a fee of minimum 4 million Sri Lankan Rupees and a maximum of 150 million Sri Lankan Rupees will be slapped on any vessels, in proportion to their length, for entering the country's coastal waters without license.  Earlier, the maximum fee was 750,000 Sri Lankan Rupees. "All vessels caught for poaching would be liable for both the fines," Amaraweera said.

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Updated Date: Jan 27, 2018 14:22:22 IST