COLOMBO, Aug. 8 (Xinhua) -- Thirty-seven Chinese fishermen detained by the Sri Lankan navy for allegedly fishing in restricted waters have left the northeastern port of Trincomalee, the Chinese embassy said Wednesday.
The fishermen, who left aboard two Sri Lankan-registered trawlers, were arrested Sunday while working within 200 nautical miles of the country's east coast, an exclusive economic zone reserved for domestic fishermen.
The Sri Lankan Fisheries Ministry said Wednesday, however, that the Chinese fishermen had been mistakenly detained because they were working on a government approved project at the time of their arrests.
Damitha de Soyza, the Fisheries Ministry secretary, told Xinhua that the fishermen were working on a Board of Directors approved project that was owned by a Sri Lankan.
Two Sri Lankans, who were detained along with the Chinese, were freed after appearing in court on Monday while the 37 Chinese were released by the navy.
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