Indian Coast Guard arrests 65 Sri Lankan fishermen

[TamilNet, Saturday, 03 May 2008, 14:35 GMT]
Indian Coast Guard has arrested 65 Sri Lankan fishermen of Sinhalese origin in the past week for illegally fishing in Indian waters without carrying any valid documents. According to reports in the Indian media, a Coast Guard ship on routine offshore patrol had spotted a flotilla of trawlers moving 116 nautical miles off Chennai on April 27.

The fishermen, hailing from Chilaapam near Negombo had come in nine boats fitted with Global Positioning System (GPS) and high-frequency sets. The Indian Coast Guard, which detained the Sri Lankan fishermen under Sections 3/10 and 7/14 of the Maritime Zone of India Act 1981 for illegal fishing, seized about 2.10 tonnes of fish from them.

The Indian Government had announced a fishing holiday on the east coast from April 15 to June 15 because this was considered to be the breeding season of fish resources. This ban is strictly implemented annually to ensure that the maritime resources are not depleted to constant fishing. Boat owners make use of this ban period to repair and paint their boats. The absence of Tamil Nadu fishermen in the Indian seas encouraged the Sri Lankan fishermen to boldly venture into Indian waters in fishing trawlers.

The detained fishermen were brought to the Coast Guard station at Ma'ndapam along with their boats on Friday. Interrogation was being carried out by various intelligence agencies to verify their antecedents, according to Indian news reports. A joint action committee comprising the Coast Guard, local police, the intelligence bureau, the district administration and immigration officials will decide the fate of the arrested Sri Lankan fishermen.


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