KOCHI: The fishermen detained by British Navy in Diego Garcia in the first week of March are expected to return to their homes this week. An official of the Department of Fisheries who is in charge of the correspondences with the British High Commissioner has said the 32 fishermen will be on their way home as soon as the officials in Diego Garcia quote the fine amount that need to paid for fishing in their waters.
“We initiated the process as soon as the news reached us.
They have quoted an amount close to Rs 5 lakh. But it is not yet clear if the fine is for both the boats captured or for just one. The modalities of the release will be initiated after we are clear on the amount,” the official said.
The official, who was in charge of the release of the 19 fishermen detained by Diego Garcia officials in May 2016, said the state had spent close to Rs 6 lakh for their release then. He said though there are fishermen from Tamil Nadu on the boat, the onus is on to rescue the Kerala fishers since the boats operate from here. Moreover, the alleged killing of a Tamil fishermen by Sri Lankan Navy last Monday and the protests which ensued had the Fisheries Department in Tamil Nadu in a bind.
The boats - Al-Ameen from Kochi and Mermaid from Thiruvanthapuram - had left their respective harbours more than three weeks ago. The British navy officials have seized close to 9 tonnes of fish from each boat. The recurrence of incidents where fishermen from Kerala and Tamil Nadu have been captured or murdered for crossing into the territory of other countries calls for government intervention. Fishermen organisations have consistently maintained that they are unable to keep track of the international boundaries since their boats lack the latest navigational systems.
Apart from obsolete tracking and signaling systems, the fishermen’s lack of knowledge to decipher the communication sent from the approaching ships or law enforcement boats is also another concern.