Colombo/Beijing: Over 35 Chinese fishermen, detained by Sri Lanka for allegedly poaching in the country`s waters were released on Monday within 24 hours of their arrest.
37 Chinese and two Sri Lankan crew on board the trawlers were escorted to Trincomalee after their arrest off the eastern coast of Batticaloa last night, Sri Lankan Navy spokesperson Kosala Warnakulasuriya said.
All the arrested Chinese fishermen have now been released, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
The Chinese Embassy had urged Sri Lankan authorities to handle the issue in accordance with law, find out the truth and release the Chinese fishermen as soon as possible.
Local authorities said the Chinese are allowed to do deep sea fishing 200 nautical miles off Sri Lanka`s coast, however the arrested trawler was poaching just 10-15 nautical miles east off the Batticaloa coast.
Sri Lankan fishermen lament that local authorities are turning a blind eye to poaching by Indian and Chinese fishermen who deprive them of the catch in the nation`s waters.
The arrest of the Chinese fishermen came as a surprise as Sri Lanka, which is a recipient of large amounts of aid from China, had detained the fishermen.
The Chinese assist assistance to Sri Lanka included the construction of USD 1.5 billion modern port at Hambanthota.