14 Lankan fishers held; 200 kg sea cucumbers, scuba diving kits seized

It may be noted that fishing sea cucumbers is legal in Sri Lanka, but illegal in India.
Officials said arresting fishers with scuba diving kits is unusual.
Officials said arresting fishers with scuba diving kits is unusual.(Photo | Special arrangement)

NAGAPATTINAM: Indian Coast Guard arrested 14 Sri Lankan fishers on Thursday for allegedly crossing the International Maritime Boundary Line and fishing endangered sea cucumbers using scuba diving kits in Indian waters near Kodiyakarai.

According to sources, Coast Guard patrol vessel Rani Durgavati spotted five motorised boats at 13 nautical miles from Kodiyakarai (Point Calimere) and 7 nautical miles from the IMBL around 2 pm on Thursday. The personnel identified the boats as those from Sri Lanka and apprehended the 14 fishers on board. They seized a total of 50 oxygen cylinders, 15 scuba diving kits and 200 kg of endangered sea cucumbers from the boats. Officials said arresting fishers with scuba diving kits is unusual.

It may be noted that fishing sea cucumbers is legal in Sri Lanka, but illegal in India. Sea Cucumbers are protected under India’s Wildlife Act and classified as a vulnerable species under International Union of Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Commandant Vijay Viswanathan, station commander of ICG station in Karaikal, said, “The fishers were brought to Nagapattinam Fishing Harbour around 6 pm and handed over to Coastal Security Group team for further action.”

A case was registered at Vedaranyam Marine Police Station under the Maritime Zones of India Act 1981. On Friday, the fishers are expected to be produced at the metropolitan magistrate court in Chennai.

It may be noted that in the conflict surrounding Katchatheevu, the Sri Lankan Navy has been arresting Indian fishers for fishing in Lankan waters. On Thursday, the Indian Coast Guard arrested Sri Lankan fishers on the same charge.

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