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Sri Lanka coast guard to deploy craft against Indian poachers
04 Mar, 2011 08:49:15
Mar 04, 2011 (LBO) - Sri Lanka's coast guard is to deploy it's growing fleet of craft against Indian fishermen poaching in the island's northern waters, an official said.
The coast guard this week took delivery of a patrol boat built by the navy and is to get more craft, including four fast patrol boats also from the navy and later two surveillance vessels, Daya Dharmapriya, director-general of Sri Lanka's coast guard said.

"At the moment we're focusing on fisheries protection. Indian trawlers poaching in the north is a big problem," he told LBO.

The defence ministry has ordered coast guard vessels should be sent to the north, he said.

Dharmapriya said that although the coast guard wanted to focus on protecting marine resources and habitat, it had to deploy boats initially against poaching in northern waters as it was a more immediate problem.

Patrolling on the Indian side of the maritime border is handled by India's own coast guard, considered a non-military organisation.

Sri Lankan naval action against Indian poachers is seen as military action, he said.

Therefore the deployment of a civilian force like the coast guard against Indian poachers would be more acceptable, he added.

Thousands of Indian fishing craft have been crossing the maritime boundary at night and fishing in Sri Lankan waters, leaving before dawn.

The poaching became a diplomatic issue recently owing to the killing of two Indian fishermen and subsequent detention of over a 100 Indian fishermen by Sri Lankan fishermen.

They were later freed after Indian pressure.

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