By Supun Dias
Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Jagath Jayasuriya said the menace of poaching is handled diplomatically by India and Sri Lanka without leaving any room for violence or organised crimes.
“The poaching issue is being addressed at another higher level of dialogue called Joint Working Group of Fisheries, involving officials of respective line ministries of both Governments,” he said while speaking at the Jakarta International Defence Dialogue (JIDD) in Indonesia.
General Jayasuriya said the Indian Coast Guard arrested Sri Lankan fishermen who ventured to Indian Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) for Tuna fishing. These arrests at times include Sri Lankan fishermen who are transiting Indian EEZ for International waters too.
“However these issues are addressed through bilateral action from time to time, with emphasis on humanitarian concerns and expeditious release of those arrested,” he noted.
Managing issues relating to poaching lie on bilateral understanding. Therefore all poaching details are submitted by the Sri Lanka Navy to the relevant Sri Lankan and Indian authorities in Colombo, which is transmitted to New Delhi, he said.
“The High Commissions in the respective capitals maintain data bases and once fishermen are through the legal processes, they will be repatriated under the coordination of the Navy/Coast Guard. Such repatriation is pre-planned and always takes place under an escort vessel,” General Jayasuriya said.
He added that patrolling by Sri Lankan and Indian Naval/Coast Guard vessels in the Palk Bay follow standard operating procedures adopted at IMBL meetings and remains in lending assistance for bona-fide fishermen.