‘Hit-and-sail’ incident off Kerala coast triggers concern

The Association of Deep Sea Going Artisanal Fishermen has approached the Union government seeking steps to ensure compensation for the owner and crew of a fishing vessel that was rammed by a ship off the coast of Kochi in October last year.

According to Vincent Jain, chief executive of the association, the incident happened on October 12 when the boat St. Mary , owned by J. Antony from Kanyakumari district, developed engine failure and stalled at sea. The 12 crew members were repairing the boat when it was rammed by a ship which sped off after the incident.

Mr. Jain said the crew members were rescued by the Indian Coast Guard and the Marine Police and a case registered at the Marine Police Station, Fort Kochi, on October 12. The boat, however, was damaged beyond repair, leaving the owner, the crew members and their families on the verge of starvation.

Memorandum submitted

In a memorandum submitted to the Union Ministry of Shipping, Fisheries Department of Tamil Nadu, Mercantile Marine Department and the police, the association expressed concern over the regular occurrence of such hit and scoot incidents in Indian coastal waters, especially off Kerala.

It said no serious action was being taken to prevent such incidents.

Caveat petition

Mr. Jain said a Singapore company had filed a caveat petition in the Kerala High Court to avoid detention of its ship OEL Freedom following the incident.

The company also submitted a bond of Rs.40 lakh before the Registrar of the Madras High Court to get the ship released.

He urged the government to take immediate action to ensure adequate compensation for the owner and crew of the boat.