The Sri Lankan Navy detained at least 55 fishermen on the charges of poaching and seized their boats for fishing in the territorial water of the island nation.
As many as 43 fishermen hailing from Tamil Nadu's Ramanathapuram district were held and six trawlers were seized on Saturday night. These trawlers were reportedly among 570 mechanised boats and trawlers that set sail from Rameshwaram on Saturday morning for fishing and were supposed to return on Sunday morning.
The Times of India reported that these fishermen crossed the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) late in the evening and were fishing in the sea off the Neduntheevu. The Navy chased these boats between 10 PM and 11 PM.
According to the fishermen who returned to the shores, the Sri Lankan Navy then detained the fishermen onboard six more giant trawlers. All the men detained are between 19 to 54 years.
Sri Lankan Navy Issues Statement
According to an official statement, a special operation was conducted in the sea off the Delta Island by the 4th Fast Track Craft Flotilla attached to the Northern Naval Command on Saturday night.
This was conducted to curb the impact of foreign fishermen poaching in their water, to protect the livelihood of the local fishing communities, and the sustainability of fishery resources of Sri Lanka.
On Sunday, December 19, the Lankan Navy detained 12 more fishermen who sailed from Thangachimadam.
A meeting of 11 mechanised fishing boat associations in Rameswaram unanimously resolved to condemn the arrest of the fishermen who went fishing for their livelihoods. Announcing an indefinite strike till the release of 43 fishermen and their boats, the union also decided to stage a protest to draw the attention of the government over the issue.
Tamil Nadu CM Acts On The Matter
Chief Minister MK Stalin spoke to External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar over the phone and urged the union government to take appropriate steps to ensure the release of 55 fishermen and their eight boats immediately. "The Minister has assured to act on it immediately", said a statement from the CM office.