The Sri Lankan Minister of Fisheries, Mahinda Amaraweera, never threatened to impose fines on Indian fishermen who poach in Sri Lankan waters, the Minister’s Advisor, Claude Fernando, has said.
Responding to a story in a local Sunday newspaper, which said that the Minister had threatened to impose “stiff fines” on poachers from Tamil Nadu and Puducherry, Fernando said that at a meeting with Tamil fishermen from the Northern Province held in Colombo on October 22, the Northern fishermen had demanded imposition of stiff fines on the poachers, but the Minister himself did not say anything about it.
“He offered no comment. But unfortunately in the media, the fishermen’s remarks were attributed to the Minister,” Fernando said.
S P Anthonymuthu, Advisor to the Indo-Lanka Fishermen Welfare Association, who attended the meeting, said that, far from being belligerent, Minister Amaraweera was very keen on not disturbing the good relations between Lanka and India and had stressed the need to resolve all issues through talks between the fishermen’s associations of the two countries.
“But the Jaffna fishermen adamantly maintained that talks have been useless and called for stern action against the Indian poachers. It is these fishermen who suggested that stiff fines should be imposed, besides arresting the intruders and impounding their boats. They also suggested that the impounded boats should be taken over by the Lankan government,” Anthonymuthu said.
“In fact, no decisions were taken at the meeting, other than setting up a five man sub-committee to keep track of the poaching issue,” he added. (NIE)