Colombo, Jul 11 (PTI) The Sri Lankan Navy on Thursday arrested 13 Indian fishermen and seized their trawlers for allegedly poaching in its territorial waters, taking the number of Indian nationals apprehended this year by the island nation in such incidents to 252, an official statement said.

The fishermen were arrested, and their three trawlers were seized north of the Delft Island, Jaffna, the Sri Lanka Navy said in a press release.

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The Sri Lanka Navy and Coast Guard conducted the special operation leading to the apprehension of the 13 Indian fishermen, it said.

Those apprehended were brought to the Kankesanthurai Harbour and will be handed to the Mailadi Fisheries Inspector for further legal proceedings.

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"The Navy has seized a total of 35 Indian trawlers and 252 Indian fishermen poaching in Sri Lankan waters in 2024 and subsequently handed them over to authorities for legal proceedings," the press release said.

Earlier this month, Sri Lanka voiced its concern to India over the death of a naval sailor who was killed in an operation to seize an Indian trawler allegedly engaged in illegal fishing in the island nation's territorial waters.

On June 25, off the coast of Point Pedro in the north, a senior sailor from the Navy Special Boat Squadron sustained critical injuries due to “the aggressive manoeuvres of the Indian trawler, resisting its seizure,” a statement issued by the Sri Lankan Navy said.

The fishermen issue is a contentious one in the ties between India and Sri Lanka, with Lankan Navy personnel even firing at Indian fishermen in the Palk Strait and seizing their boats in several alleged incidents of illegally entering Sri Lankan territorial waters.

The Palk Strait, a narrow strip of water separating Tamil Nadu from Sri Lanka, is a rich fishing ground for fishermen from both countries.

Fishermen from both countries are arrested frequently for inadvertently trespassing into each other's waters.

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