The Union government has informed the Madras high court that through various mechanism, the government of Sri Lanka was impressed upon to treat Indian fishermen humanely when in detention and not to resort to violence under any circumstances while intercepting or apprehending Indian fishermen who have strayed into Sri Lankan waters.
p>Binoy George, deputy secretary (Sri Lanka) in the ministry of external affairs, stated this in his report filed in response to the petition filed by Fisherman Care, represented by its president LTA Peter Rayan.
A division bench comprising Justices S. Manikumar and Subramonium Prasad before whom the report was filed, directed the commander, Coast Guard or any other competent authority to be present in the court on September 19 to explain as to whether there could be any coast guard ship or navy ship providing communication for signal to the fishermen by way of transponders and to have a two way communication for the said boats to the coast guard or navy ship as the case may be.
The judge also directed Mohana Sundaram, additional director of animal husbandry, dairies and fishers, Tamil Nadu Government to submit a detailed technical knowhow as to how the transponders of boats and towers operate. He is also directed to submit a report as to whether fishermen of Nagapattinam to Rameswaran region for the present could be given transponders and VHF handsets, the judge added.
In his report, Binoy submitted that due to the close proximity of the territorial waters of India and Sri Lanka and presence of high density of fishing boats in the Palk bay area and the Gulf of Mannar, incidents of straying and crossing of the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) by Indian fishermen occur frequently. These fishermen were apprehended and arrested by Sri Lankan navy under their Fisheries Acts for allegedly fishing in Sri Lankan waters following the ecologically unsustainable practice of bottom trawling. This has also been a long pending issue of conflict between fishermen of both the countries and a matter of concern for both the governments.
Government of India has taken steps for finding a sustainable solution for the issue through joint efforts from the countries and taking the state governments as well as fishermen into confidence to ensure effective implementation of the suggested measures, he added.
He said the Isro was requested to develop transponders for tracking movements of fishing vessels. ISRO and Indian Navy have installed a few transponders on fishing vessels on trial basis for tracking their movements. On successful implementation, it was proposed to install transponders on large scale mainly in fishing boats of states having close proximity of neighbouring countries, including Tamil Nadu so as to locate their movements and prevent cross border fishing activities.
Tamil Nadu has communicated a list of 1215 boats for the fitment of transponders to Isro. Further 245 upgraded units of transponders have been installed in the fishing boats from various coastal districts of TN, he added.