Sri Lanka's navy seized two Chinese trawlers and their crews yesterday for fishing illegally in Lankan waters.
The two vessels with their 37 Chinese and two Sri Lankan crew members were being escorted to the northeastern port of Trincomalee last night.
The vessels were operating near the coast while only permitted to engage in deep-sea fishing under a deal with the Sri Lanka Board of Investment, said navy official Kosala Warnakulasuriya. "We'll hand them over to local police."
The board granted approval to several foreign firms for deep-sea fishing in Sri Lankan waters - a step that triggered tensions with local fishermen, who said the foreign boats were encroaching.
Tamil Tigers fired on two Chinese trawlers, killing 14 crew, in 2003. The rebels said the Chinese were poaching.
Fishermen from Sri Lanka and India clash frequently over fishing in the Palk Straits, which separates them. AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE