By Maheesha Mudugamuwa
The majority of Indian fishing boats that entered Sri Lankan waters thrice a week, were owned by politicians in Tamil Nadu, Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne said yesterday.
He said more than 1,000 fishing boats, which crossed the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) engaged in illegal fishing adopting Illegal, Unreported, Unregulated, (IUU) fishing practices, deemed as illegal by the United Nations.
Fisheries Ministry Media Spokesman Narendra Sri Rajapaksa yesterday told The Island that despite being responsible for illegal fishing at will in Lankan waters, Tamil Nadu fishermen had the nerve to protest against Lankan Fisheries Minister Dr. Senaratne continuously thinking they could cover up their sins that way.
The biggest culprits were the boat owners, many of whom were big politicians in Tamil Nadu and they were giving their vessels to fishermen only if they agreed to poach in Lankan waters, he added.
However, according to Fisheries Ministry, the loss incurred by Sri Lanka, due to poaching by Tamil Nadu fishermen in Lankan waters, has been estimated at over USD 750 million (Rs. 97,500 million) annually.
Meanwhile, Minister Senaratne said that Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa Jeyaram and other political leaders there had raised human rights issues on behalf of the Northern Tamils only for their personal political gain, while in reality they were indifferent to any humanitarian problems.