Source: Sunday Times Sri Lanka
Author: Damith Wickremasekara
In a fresh attempt to protect Sri Lanka’s fisheries resources, the Government is to impose thumping fines upto Rs. 175 million for foreign vessels poaching in Sri Lankan waters, a Cabinet minister said.
Fisheries Minister Mahinda Amaraweera told the Sunday Times the fines would be imposed on vessels intruding into Sri Lanka’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and those entering the country’s territorial waters. He said the minimum fine for poaching in the EEZ would be Rs. 3million, rising upto Rs. 150 million while the fines for poaching in the territorial waters would be between Rs. 5million and Rs. 175 million.
The minister said the new fine system would be imposed on the vessel owner who would have to appear in courts to secure the release of the vessel.Foreign fishermen involved in poaching in Sri Lankan territorial waters are now charged under the Immigration Act for unlawfully entering the country.
Under the new law, the Coastguards and the Fisheries Department will be empowered to file action against the offenders.
Fisheries Ministry Secretary Mangalika Adhikari said the fines were being increased in keeping with requirements of the European Union which lifted a ban on Sri Lanka’s fish exports to EU countries early this year.
The ban was initially imposed on Sri Lanka for failure to prevented Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing practices.
However after Sri Lanka adhered to conditions imposed by the EU, the ban was lifted.
The proposal to increase the fines also comes in the wake of the setting up of a Joint Working Group between India and Sri Lanka earlier this month.
The first ministerial meeting, after the establishing of this group, is due to be held in Colombo on January 2.