Lanka to auction 105 seized boats, fishers all at sea

Ads placed in SL newspapers for auction in Feb; calls grow for Centre, State to intervene

Published: 24th January 2022 11:09 AM  |   Last Updated: 24th January 2022 11:09 AM   |  A+A-

A boat seized from Nagapattinam fishermen last year before being taken to the Karainagar Fishing Harbour in Sri Lanka | file photo

Express News Service

NAGAPATTINAM:  The Sri Lankan government has planned to auction at least 105 boats seized from Tamil Nadu fishermen over the years, sparking outrage and concern among the State’s fishing community. 

As the island nation’s department of fisheries and aquatic resources has issued advertisements in Sri Lankan newspapers for public auctioning of seized boats in February, fishermen and representatives of fishermen’s associations of Tamil Nadu have urged the State and Union governments to take steps to stop the auction. 

The boats have been seized by Sri Lankan armed forces and were declared properties of the Lankan government for allegedly entering Sri Lankan waters. According to the advertisement, 65 boats would be auctioned at Karainagar in Jaffna district on February 7, five boats at Kangesanthurai in Jaffna district on February 8, 24 boats at Kiranchi in Kilinochchi district on February 9, nine boats at Thalaimannar in Mannar district on February 10, and two boats would be auctioned at Kalpitiya in Puttalam district on February 11. 

“My brother and I have lost one boat each in the conflict. Our boats are less than three years old. We are struggling for a livelihood without our boats,” said E Sivakumar, a boat owner, from Akkaraipettai. 
His brother Sivanesan  was among the 23 fishermen who were under Sri Lankan custody for more than a month when they were arrested last October by the Lankan navy. 

“Most of the boats may have lost their seaworthiness after rusting in Lankan harbours for years. Sri Lankan fisheries department may be selling the boats for scrap,” said an official from the TN fisheries department.

Most of these boats belong to fishers from Ramanathapuram, Nagapattinam, Pudukkottai, Thanjavur and Mayiladuthurai. They had been seized by Lankan authorities while arresting TN fishermen for allegedly crossing the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) and venturing into Sri Lankan waters.

RMP Rajendra Nattar, member of Fishermen Association of Nagapattinam, said, “Auctioning our boats is a disrespect to the Sri Lanka-India relationship. The maritime boundary has remained disputed since we ceded Katchatheevu to Lanka. We do not treat Sri Lankan vessels that enter our waters with the same contempt.  The Union government must take strong action to make Sri Lanka release our vessels.”

B Balamurugan, president, Jegathapattinam Fishers Association in Pudukkottai, said, “The auction would kill the hopes of hundreds of boat owners and fishers yearning to get back their livelihood for years. Government assistance would not be enough to compensate for the losses.” 

Meanwhile, PMK founder Dr S Ramadoss condemned the Sri Lankan government and said the island nation doesn’t have the right to auction the boats and said such an action is an insult to India which has sought the release of the confiscated boats. The Indian government should also put pressure on Sri Lanka to release 56 Tamil fishermen imprisoned in the island nation and their boats, Ramadoss said. 

India Matters


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