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MEPA highlights illegal fishing activities in restricted areas

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The Singapore registered X-press pearl container ship caught fire off the Colombo Harbour on May 20 this year and many containers inside the ship were immediately removed to prevent the fire from spreading.

According to the Fisheries Department the Environmental Ministry and several other authorised institutions including the Maritime Pollution Prevention Authority, National Aquatic and Research Authority (NARA) are conducting investigations into the environmental disaster.

MEPA Chairman Dharshani Lahandapura said the decision to restrict fishing activities in this affected ocean area was taken by the MEPA considering the risk of chemical substances, garbage and other damaged objects polluting the ocean bed.

The MEPA Chairman says that chemicals which mixed with sea water in the disaster area could cause a threat to human life.

She said in addition people who are engaged in fishing in this restricted area should also be very careful since this situation could be detrimental to their health, hence the reason to ban fishing until a clear assurance is given.
State Minister Kanchana Wijesekara said some people are still engaged in fishing ignoring the instructions given by the Fisheries Department to refrain from fishing in this restricted ocean area.

He said even the Ministry had advised the Sri Lanka Navy to conduct search operations using special vessels.
Wijesekara further said a large number of fishermen who have been prohibited from fishing in this area following the Government announcement will be paid compensation for the loss of income to their livelihood.

Source DailyNews
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