Eight boats, earlier apprehended by Sri Lanka and whose release was stalled by legalities, finally waded into Indian waters, escorted by the Indian Coast Guard Ship Rajshri in the early hours of Saturday at Karaikal port. The boats, six from Karaikal and two from Nagapattinam were apprehended for poaching in Sri Lankan waters off Triconamallee coast in August and October 2013. The boats were finally released on February 18, 2014 by a Triconamalle court and were secured back to the country by the boat owners.

The boat owners had left for Sri Lanka at their own expense, with a two-member crew for each boat to secure their boats back to India. A boat mechanic was hired from Tuticorin and expenses were met by the boat owners.

Speaking to The Hindu, Coast Guard Commandant Udhal Singh said the boats were received along the IMBL by ICGS Rajshri on Friday afternoon. Their repatriation was delayed due to rough sea. Earlier, on January 25, 2014, 30 boats and 181 fishermen, apprehended in August and October 2013 were released. However, the release of few boats has been a protracted process in the wake of being declared Sri Lankan property.

Five more boats, two from Karaikal and three from Nagapattinam are still under Sri Lankan custody in Kangesanthurai. These boats were apprehended off Point Pedro in August 2013. According to N.Illayaperuman, Assistant Director of Fisheries, these five boats were declared Sri Lankan property by Kangesanthurai court. “But we expect them to be released before the scheduled March 13 talks between fishermen of the two countries in Sri Lanka,”