COLOMBO: Sri Lankan fishermen on Sunday launched a protest boat rally in the northern seas to demand actions to stop the alleged poaching incidents by Indian fishermen in the country's territorial waters.
The protest was launched days after the Sri Lankan Navy arrested 23 Indian fishermen and seized two trawlers for allegedly poaching in the country's territorial waters off the coast of Vettilaikeni in the northern province's Point Pedro area, about 380 kms from here.
Hundreds of fishing boats carrying black flags reading 'save our fishermen' were launched in the protest action launched from the northeastern region of Mullaithivu to the Point Pedro in the north.
"This is our problem, we have to protect our fishermen that is why we have launched this from Mullaithivu to Point Pedro," said MA Sumanthiran, the leading Tamil National Alliance parliamentarian.
Several of his colleagues took part in the protest.
Sri Lankan fishermen have long accused Indians of poaching in the island's waters.
In March, the Navy seized five fishing vessels and 54 Indian nationals for poaching in Sri Lankan waters.
The Navy said that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the seizure of foreign fishing vessels became limited and the arrestees were repatriated.
The Navy further said it will continue to carry out regular patrols in Sri Lankan waters adhering to COVID-19 protocols to prevent illegal fishing practices and other illegal acts by foreign fishermen, with a view to protect the fishery resources claimed by Sri Lanka and secure the livelihood of local fishermen.