Fisheries authorities and the Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) have stepped up action against illegal fishing methods used by local fishermen, officials said. The SLN arrested 89 fishermen off the east coast, for using ‘Hambili del’ or ‘Purse Seine’ nets meant for deep sea fishing.
Navy spokesman, Commander Kosala Waranakulasuriya said the arrests made by Eastern Naval Command’s SLN Dockyard on October 17, was off Chapel Island and Dutch Bay in Trincomalee.
Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Department Director General Nimal Hettiarachchie said that it is illegal to use these nets within a radius of 7 km offshore, while the mesh size of these nets should also be bigger than 1½ inches. Furthermore, these nets can be used in the deep sea only with a permit from his Dept.
Mr. Hettiarachchie also revealed that fishermen use these Purse Seine nets in the night guided by powerful lights, known as ‘light course’. Both big and small fish attracted to the light, are easily netted which is considered detrimental to the sustainability of fish stocks. Hence, using these purse seine nets at night is illegal. However, illegal ‘light course’ fishing continues in these areas,” Mr Hettiarachchie revealed.
Dynamite fishing too is a major issue, especially off the east coast. Dynamite blasts are reportedly heard even near Trincomalee’s Pigeon Island Marine National Park. The SLN spokesman said they are trying their utmost to curb these illegal activities.
Meanwhile, SLN personnel attached to the North Western Naval Command (NWNC), on information received, arrested two persons with 11.2 kg of turtle meat and 424 turtle eggs, in the general area of Anawasala in Kalpitiya on October 16. Investigations later revealed the meat belonged to a Leatherback Turtle, which is the largest of all turtles that come ashore to lay eggs. The suspects were handed over to Wildlife Conservation officials at Kandakkuliya.
“The SLN’s NWNC has also recovered 2,470 conch shells in the Karadikkuli area on October 9, 2013. The SLN also continues to apprehend Indian fishermen resorting to illegal bottom trawling,” said Cmdr. Warnasuriya.
All these activities highlight the perils that the ocean’s biodiversity is subject to, and the stringent measures taken to sustain its natural resources.