Release boats from Seychelles, plead captains

The fishermen in five boats ventured from Kanniyakumari and Kochi in the last week of February and were detained by the Seychelles government for venturing into their territorial waters on March 7.
Release boats from Seychelles, plead captains
The five boat captains who were released from Seychelles

CHENNAI: The joy of return of five Kanniyakumari boat captains from Seychelles prison is short lived as both the fishermen and the boat owners are left jobless due to their boats, in which they sailed, were seized by the Seychelles government.

“The boats are worth over Rs 75 lakh each and we are completely relying on them for our livelihood. Without our boats we cannot run our day to day life. We were promised by both the state and the Central governments that our boats will be retrieved but no one had even spoken about the issue,” Kurusayyan, owning two out of five seized boats, told DT Next.

The fishermen in five boats ventured from Kanniyakumari and Kochi in the last week of February and were detained by the Seychelles government for venturing into their territorial waters on March 7. In total, 56 fishermen, including five boat captains were arrested and their five boats were seized. Though the fishermen were released the boat captains were detained and were released only recently.

However, while releasing, the boat captains were made to sign an agreement by the Seychelles government that the seized boats will not be released by them. Though the release of captains after three months had sent a huge sigh of relief, the seizure of boats has worried the boat owners.

“Each boat was fined Rs 1.08 crore by the Seychelles government and we were asked to pay the fine for the release of boat captains. As we could not pay the money we were forced to sign an agreement to surrender our boats,” said Kurusayyan.

Similarly, another boat owner, Shoba Soosa Nayagam, said that they had pledged their house and jewels to purchase the boat and the boat is their only source of livelihood. “With the hope of earning back from the boat we pledged all our properties, but now the boat is seized. If we could not repay our loans our house would be seized and we would be left homeless. Both the state and Central governments should initiate action to retrieve our boats,” said Shoba.

One of the five boat captains, Jerin Raj said that each boat captain was fined Rs 28 lakh by the Seychelles government, but their lawyer Raja Sundaram, arranged by the Seychelles government, argued well and saved them from paying the fine. Based on the advocate’s advice they had to leave their boats and return empty handed, added Jerin Raj.

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