15 boats arrived, taking the total count of released boats to 45

The third batch of 69 fishermen, released by Sri Lanka, arrived at Karaikal Port onboard ICGS Vigraha early on Thursday, bringing the total number of fishermen repatriated in the last fortnight to 302.

Fifteen boats arrived here along with the fishermen, taking the total count of released boats to 45.

Speaking to The Hindu over phone, Arulanandam, founder of Rameswaram-based Alliance for the Release of Innocent Fishermen, said 46 Indian boats were still in Sri Lankan custody and 14 Sri Lankan boats in Indian custody.

“In our resolution of January 27 talks, we had asked for the release of Sri Lankan boats at the earliest. The longer the boats are kept out of use; greater will be the repair expenses.” In addition, 15 released fishermen are lodged in Colombo and are awaiting repatriation.

“According to reports, 38 Indian fishermen and some 6 boats were apprehended on Thursday,” says Mr.Arulanandam.

Among the 69 fishermen released, 22 were Pudukottai based. They were arrested on December 29, 2013. Forty-seven were from Ramanathapuram, arrested last week. Alongside, 9 boats of Ramanathapuram and 6 boats of Pudukottai were released.

While the repatriation of the fishermen took place on Wednesday, rough sea and heavy wind delayed their arrival, said Commandant Udhal Singh Coast Guard Station Karaikal. The fishermen were received by Collector T.Munusamy.

According to Thiruvaraiselvan, Panchayatar of Akkarapettai, the fishing community was initiated into trawling by the government as an upgradation of fishing methods decades ago. “Trawling is a serious concern of Sri Lankan fishermen and this was voiced in the recent talks. However, we need a time-frame to phase out the practice and subsidy to encourage sustainable fishing,” he said.

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