Lankan Navy seizes catch netted by TN fishermen

Sri Lankan Navy on Sunday allegedly forcibly took away the catch netted by fishermen who put to sea from here, while they were fishing near Katchatheevu in the Palk Straits, Fisheries Department officials said.

Lankan Naval personnel allegedly surrounded ten boats and at gunpoint seized the catch early on Sunday morning, officials said.

Officials claimed the Lankan Navy was now strictly enforcing the ban on Tamil Nadu fishermen from fishing near Katchatheevu, their traditional area of fishing.

"For the past one week,ten Sri Lankan navy boats have been anchored near the islet and they are using focus lights to warn the Indian fishermen going anywhere near Katchatheevu," said a fisheries department official.

Assistant Director of Fisheries Kathikeyan said Lankan fishermen and navy would not have any objection to the Indian fishermen fishing in the area,provided they used proper fishing nets.

But Rameswaram fishermen were using 'banned fishing nets' which were causing harm to marine wealth, and as a result there were clashes between the fishermen and their Lankan counterparts, he said.

Asked why the fisheries department was allowing banned nets to be carried into the sea, he told agencies, "I don't know what net they are using in mid-sea, and it is not possible to check every boat."

Meanwhile,fishermen today returned with poor quantity of fish as they were not allowed near Katchatheevu,officials said.

The Lankan navalmen were patrolling in the area throughout the night, signalling with 'focus lights' not to enter their area, they added.

Katchatheevu is an islet ceded to Sri Lanka by India under an agreement in 1974.

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