Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) have taken under custody two Sri Lankan fishing vessels that allegedly entered Maldivian territory illegally.
According to MNDF’s information officer Ibrahim Azim, the two vessels were spotted by a Coast Guard speedboat on patrol in the economic zone outside of Vaavu atoll. There were five people onboard both vessels.
Four other Sri Lankan vessels were also spotted in Maldivian territory on November 18. They were halted and reported to the Coast Guard by local fishing boats in Gaafu Dhaal atoll. The Coast Guard had inspected the vessels and released them, claiming that they had the necessary documents. However, the fisheries ministry had later declared that it had not issued any permits to the four vessels in question.
Under Maldivian law, all foreign vessels require permission from the government to enter or cross Maldivian territory with the exception of innocent passage and other special circumstances.