COLOMBO, March 23 (Xinhua) -- The Sri Lankan Navy on Thursday arrested 16 Indian fishermen for poaching in northern waters, the navy media unit said here.
In a statement, it said the fishermen were arrested at two separate locations.
"Accordingly, fast attack craft attached to the Northern Naval Command with the assistance of Sri Lanka Coast Guard apprehended 8 Indian fishermen along with a steel hull fishing trawler for poaching in the seas Northwest of Analathivu Island," the navy said.
Having brought the fishermen and items to the Naval Base SLNS Elara, in the north, they will be handed over to the Jaffna Fisheries Director for onward investigations.
Further, eight more Indian poachers and a wooden hull fishing trawler were arrested while engaging in illegal fishing activities in the sea area North of Mannar by the Naval personnel onboard two Fast Attack Craft attached to the North Central Naval Command.
The arrested fishermen and their belongings were produced before the Mannar Fisheries Director, upon bringing them to the Naval Base SLNS Thammanna.
Sri Lankan Fisheries Minister Mahinda Amaraweera recently said that Indian fishermen will continue to be arrested if they poach in Sri Lankan waters.
Quoted in local media reports, Amaraweera said the government was also looking at resolving the Indo-Lanka fishing dispute in a diplomatic manner and talks would be held as scheduled next month.
Fishermen in India's southern state of Tamil Nadu recently issued an ultimatum to Sri Lanka and India, demanding that concrete steps be taken to address the Indo-Lanka fishing dispute, failing which the situation may spiral out of control.
The warning was issued after a Tamil Nadu fisherman was killed earlier this month allegedly by the Sri Lanka Navy.
The Sri Lankan Navy and Foreign Ministry have denied the allegations, stating that a shooting incident did not take place.