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Tamil Nadu fisherfolk sentenced to 14 months in prison in Sri Lanka

File Photo: Tamil Nadu Fishing boats 

On 23rd March 2023, the Sri Lankan naval forces arrested 12 fisherfolk on two boats near Analaitivu for fishing within the Exclusive Economic Zone of Sri Lanka. They were then presented to the Kayts Magistrate Court for their charges.

One of the 12 individuals arrested had previously been arrested and produced in court for the same charges within the last 12 months, as was revealed during the court proceedings. This person was subsequently sentenced to 14 months in prison, while the other 11 fisherfolk were released.

Furthermore, since the owners of one of the boats were among the arrested fisherfolk, the boat was seized by the government of Sri Lanka. Meanwhile, the owner of the other boat was not present during the hearing, and the date for the next hearing on the case has been fixed to the 8th of May.

In recent years, fishermen from the North-East have spoken of Indian trawlers encroaching on their fishing grounds in larger boats which are known to damage the seabed and are capable of carrying a larger catch, often exhausting the fishing reserves thus making it harder for Eelam Tamil fishermen obtain a sizeable catch.

The bottom-trawlers cause damage to smaller fishermen’s nets in the sea. To prevent any damage to their equipment, Eelam Tamil fishermen avoid going to sea, therefore having a detrimental effect on their livelihood. These bottom trawling boats affect both the fisherman in Tamil Eelam and small-time fisherman in Tamil Nadu. 

The fishermen leaders also highlighted the harm it was causing to the relationship between the two Tamil communities, and the loss of life due to the Sri Lankan Navy’s dangerous indictment methods.

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