COLOMBO, April 24 (Xinhua) -- The Sri Lankan government on Friday reiterated its warning that Indian fishermen who violate Sri Lanka's maritime border and illegally fish within its waters will be arrested.
Minister of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Mahinda Amaraweera told journalists that the Sri Lankan Navy had been ordered to arrest the Indian fishermen and have their boats confiscated if they stray into local waters.
The warning came just days after a local media report revealed that over 100 fishermen from India's southern state of Tamil Nadu will meet Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in New Delhi on Monday to hand over a petition demanding uninterrupted fishing rights in the Sri Lankan waters.
Quoting Indian fishermen, the report said that the petition will demand that Sri Lankan fishermen stay away from the sea on days they go fishing there.
However Amaraweera said that the government had informed the Navy to arrest Indian fishermen entering local waters and a recent request by the Indian fishermen to enter Sri Lankan waters for 83 days had also been denied. "We do not hope to fulfill this request even in the future," Amaraweera said.
Sri Lanka and India have been trying to resolve the longstanding fishermen issue with fishermen from both sides having to face arrest and their boats being detained when they stray into each other's waters illegally.