Indian fishing boat sinks after collision with Sri Lankan navy vessel

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An Indian fishing trawler has sunk after allegedly ramming a Sri Lankan navy vessel hunting poachers from the island nation’s shrimp-rich waters, officials said on Tuesday.

The two countries are separated by the narrow Palk Strait renowned for its jumbo shrimp, with Sri Lankan fishermen long accusing their Indian neighbors of poaching in their territory.

The incident happened Monday evening, with rescuers still searching for one of the trawler’s missing crew members on Tuesday, the navy said in a statement.

Two other fishermen from the boat were rescued, he added.

“The search and rescue operation is complemented by a team of navy divers, fast attack craft and coastal patrol boats,” the navy added.

Sri Lankan fishermen set sail on Sunday in a protest calling on authorities to block Indian fishing boats in their waters and end bottom trawling.

The practice – banned in Sri Lankan waters in 2017 – involves dragging heavy nets across the seabed to catch a large volume of fish, damaging the marine ecosystem.

Sri Lankan fishermen were barred from venturing out during much of the decades-long Tamil separatist war on the island that ended in 2009, allowing Indians to roam freely in the region.

But there have been growing tensions over poaching since Sri Lankan fishermen were once again allowed to sail.

The South Asian country has regularly arrested large numbers of Indian fishermen and seized their boats, but poaching has not stopped, locals say.

Sri Lankan fishermen claim that every week several Indian vessels enter their waters to fish.

An Indian fisherman was reportedly killed by Sri Lankan forces in March 2017.

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