The Government today told Parliament that Chinese trawlers are not involved in poaching in Sri Lankan waters. Fisheries Minister Rajitha Senaratne said that so far it has been only Indian fishermen who enter Sri Lankan waters illegally and catch fish.
The Minister said that the Chinese catch fish in international waters and offload them in Sri Lanka under an agreement signed with the Board of Investment.
Senaratne denied opposition claims that Chinese trawlers catch fish within Sri Lankan waters while flying the Sri Lankan flag.
“They have no access in Sri Lankan waters to catch fish,” the Minister said.
The Minister also noted that French and Spanish ships are engaged in double trawling in the Indian Ocean using high-tech equipment.
“They take more than 48 percent of the fish. So we invited China and India and countries in the region to compete against countries from outside the Indian Ocean,” he said.
On the Kachchaitivu issue, the Minister said the Indian Government had recently made it clear that the island belongs to Sri Lanka.
Indian fishermen and political parties in south India have been demanding that the Indian Government regain ownership of the island owing to the fishing resources in the area.
However the Indian Government had told the Madras High Court recently that the island is a sovereign property of Sri Lanka based on a deal signed in 1974 and 1976 between India and Sri Lanka.