Tamil Nadu Fishing Boats Likely To Be Released Today

February 13, 2015

Tamil Nadu government will send rescue teams comprising 150 fishermen to Sri Lanka to repair and bring back the 81 fishing boats, which could be released as early as today.

In a statement, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam said the State Fisheries Department would take over the boats when the Sri Lankan courts release them.

The boats were confiscated by the Sri Lankan Navy on charges of crossing the international maritime boundary line (IMBL) last year.

Officials at the Indian High Commission in Colombo said efforts were on and that the trawlers would be released “very soon”.

The rescue teams would return to Tamil Nadu with the support of the Indian Coast Guard, Panneerselvam said. He said the Assistant Director of Fisheries and Inspector of Fisheries at Rameswaram had been deputed with the power of attorney from the boat owners to get the boats released.

After the Sri Lankan courts said the owners of the trawlers had to make an application with details of the trawlers, the Tamil Nadu officials arrived in Sri Lanka on Thursday, officials in Colombo said.

The modalities of taking the trawlers back to India are being worked out, it is learnt. A decision will be taken depending on the condition of the trawlers, officials in Colombo told The Hindu.  The Sri Lankan side expected a reciprocal gesture from India where Sri Lankan trawlers were apprehended, they added.

Recently, northern Sri Lankan fishermen have also raised concern over “an increase in number of trawlers from Tamil Nadu” near their coastline. Northern Province Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran conveyed this concern to President Maithripala Sirisena yesterday, when Sirisena chaired a discussion “on the issues of Indian fishermen who involve in fisheries activities in Sri Lanka’s sea periphery.”

According to The Hindu, the Chief Minister sought to highlight the problems posed by Indian trawlers that reportedly poach in Sri Lankan waters, to the President who will travel to India on Sunday, apparently to send a message to New Delhi.
(with inputs from The Hindu)

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