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32 fishers detained by British Navy in Deigo Garcia once again; but why it is recurring?

  • Two fishing vessels started out from Thoppumpady harbour in Kochi on 16 February and were intercepted by the British Navy nearly 1500 nautical miles from Kochi days after.
  • Several fishermen from these coastal villages serve jail term in foreign lands, only the very lucky among them get freed
Why fishers from TN  Kerala land in foreign jails often
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In yet another instance of detention of Indian fishers in foreign shores, 32 fishermen from Kerala and Tamil Nadu were arrested by British Navy in Diego Garcia. The fishermen who ventured into the sea for deep sea fishing in two vessels from Kochi were detained by British Navy for trespassing into its territory near Diego Garcia atoll in the Indian Ocean. 

 

Two fishing vessels started out from Thoppumpady harbour in Kochi on 16 February and were intercepted by the British Navy nearly 1500 nautical miles (nearly 2100 km) from Kochi days after.  Most of the fishermen in detention are from Nagercoil, Kanyakumari and Thiruvananthapuram. The fishermen in detention informed about their plight over the phone to the relatives back home on Monday. 

 

This is not the first time fishermen from Kerala and Tamil Nadu, experts in deep-sea fishing, are detained by British Navy near Diego Garcia and other foreign countries for trespassing into their territory. Every time, long diplomatic parleys would be needed to release the fisher folk from foreign jails. 

 

They know no foreign language and are oblivious of the complexities of the diplomatic relations or the subtle nuances of foreign policies or national boundaries to handle such a complicated situation.

 

As many as 30 Tamil Nadu Fishermen are under detention in the Kish Island of Iran for many months now, despite their sponsor paying the penalty and finalising all the requirements for their release, complaints Justin Antony, founder president of the Tamil Nadu based International Fishermen Development Trust. 

 

Fishers from Tamil Nadu and coastal villages of Thiruvananthapuram, who are experts in deep-sea fishing often lands in foreign jails because of their spirit of adventure and lack of knowledge about territorial restrictions. The go after schools of tuna and other commercially valuable fishes and end up crossing into foreign waters as far as Seychelles in the Indian Ocean, off East Africa, more than 2,000 nautical miles from Kochi.

 

Most of them are unaware of the diplomatic complications involved. Several fishermen from these coastal villages serve jail term in foreign lands, only the very lucky among them get freed, and they return home empty handed, leaving their boat worth many lakhs left to rot at foreign coasts. They know no foreign language and are oblivious of the complexities of the diplomatic relations or the subtle nuances of foreign policies or national boundaries to handle such a complicated situation.

 

The draft of   National Policy on Marine Fisheries, 2016 had stressed the need for regional marine cooperation for ensuring the safety and security of fishers.

 

The draft of National Policy on Marine Fisheries, 2016 had stressed the need for regional marine cooperation for ensuring the safety and security of fishers. "Such cooperation will facilitate managing shared resources and shared ecosystems; harmonization of policies and programmes aimed at optimized harvesting of trans-boundary resources; safeguard of human rights, in particular for fishermen straying in waters of other countries," the draft said. 

 

But talks on regional cooperation and diplomatic discussions often ignore the plight of the poor fishermen who unintentionally strays into foreign waters in search of fish, their daily bread. 


 

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