Navy finds two Indian boats washed ashore | Daily News

Navy finds two Indian boats washed ashore

The Sri Lankan Navy found two Indian vessels washed ashore north of the Mullaitivu District in the island’s Northern Province on Monday night. Arrangements are underway for the 18 fishermen on board, from Nagapattinam and Karaikal, to be repatriated, authorities said.

“One was a dhow, and another was a bottom trawler. We suspect the fishermen on board were fishing in Sri Lankan waters when their vessels drifted to our coast, due to an apparent engine failure. The winds were also very strong,” Sri Lankan Navy Spokesman Captain Indika de Silva told The Hindu. “Sri Lankan authorities, along with the Indian mission here, will work out their repatriation,” he said.

Over the last decade, northern Tamil fishermen of Sri Lanka have been voicing concern about Indian trawlers fishing along their coast, while severely impacting the marine resources that the war-hit community relies on to build their destroyed livelihoods. The Palk Bay fisheries issue has remained a sensitive issue in Indo-Lanka bilateral ties, with the Lankan Navy apprehending hundreds of fishermen and boats on charges of trespassing.

However, the number of Indian fishermen arrested by the Sri Lankan navy and trawlers seized has gone down in recent years, especially after Sri Lanka toughened its laws and introduced huge fines for trespassing foreign vessels.

This year, 34 fishermen were arrested, and six trawlers were seized. While all arrested fishermen have been released, the six trawlers remain in Sri Lankan custody, as per official records.

Following news of Sri Lankan courts clearing the auction or destruction of over 100 Indian vessels – seized between 2015 and 2018 – Sri Lankan officials said they sought the court’s permission only after the Indian side had deemed the vessels “unsalvageable”, owing to corrosion.

“The district fisheries authority petitioned court on auctioning the vessels, based on a discussion between the Sri Lankan Fisheries Department and Foreign Ministry officials in August, on what we could do with vessels yet to be claimed,” said Jayarajasingham Sudaharan, Assistant Director at the Fisheries Department in Jaffna.

The Sri Lankan side had taken on board the India mission’s input on the issue, according to officials.

A team led by the Tamil Nadu Fisheries Department had visited Sri Lanka in January and February in 2019, to inspect the seized vessels. The team, including fishermen from Tamil Nadu, had deemed some of the vessels unsalvageable, sources said.

- The Hindu