The Sri Lankan Navy on Wednesday arrested 110 Indian fishermen off Sri Lanka’s eastern coast for allegedly fishing illegally. It also confiscated 15 trawlers.

According to sources in fishermen’s associations in Tamil Nadu, the arrested fishermen were largely from Nagapattinam and Karaikkal.

“We found the trawlers trespassing along the eastern coast, to the north of Mullaitivu,” Navy spokesman Kosala Warnakulasuriya told The Hindu.

The problem of Indian fishermen, particularly those from Tamil Nadu, allegedly poaching on Sri Lankan waters continues to persist, posing a challenge to the ties between the two countries. As many as 87 fishermen are already in Sri Lankan prison. Some of their trawlers are also in Sri Lankan custody as legal proceedings are on.

While both countries seem to recognise that the problem is rooted in livelihood concerns of fishermen on either side of the Palk Strait, Sri Lankan fishermen — particularly Tamil-speaking fishermen inhabiting the island’s war-torn Northern Province are at the receiving end.

New Delhi is awaiting Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa’s response to holding a meeting of fishermen from both sides, after which it could host the Joint Working Group meeting, where officials and experts from both sides are expected to arrive at a mutually agreeable, feasible solution.

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