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Tamil Nadu fishermen in troubled waters of Gulf

Chennai/ New Delhi, Nov7 () Tamil Nadu fishermen are not only at loggerheads with Sri Lanka counterparts but also with Quatar in the Gulf around 40 fishermen have been jailed by Quatar for fishing in their waters .Most of the arrested fishermen are employed in Bahrain, the UAE and Saudi Arabia and normally they are charged with attacking Qatari Coast Guard personnel and fishing illegally. Once arrested, their employers normally do not secure their release by paying a fine.

The Indian mission in Doha secured release of 60 fishermen recently. The arrests are going up and the Indian mission has sought the help of the State Government and the Ministry of Overseas Affairs in this matter. The fishermen from Tamil Nadu bound for Gulf should attend a orientation programme which will detail the maritime laws of the Gulf countries. External Affairs Ranjan Mathai during his visit to Chennai had told this issue to Chief minister.

Union Government officials claim that Tamil Nadu is concerned only with the attacks by Sri Lankan navy since it has a political mileage.

Addressing the media following a monthly community forum, Deepa Gopalan Wadhwa, the Indian ambassador in Doha, said that fishermen should be aware of the implications of crossing international waters.”Most of the fishermen stray into Qatari waters unintentionally due to weather conditions or other problems,” the ambassador said.

“The embassy and community here are always ready to help them when they are detained by the officials here. However, there are judicial procedures and legal action they will have to face. If they are detained or imprisoned, their livelihood is affected, hence they should be careful,” she said, quoted by Qatari daily The Peninsula.

According to fishermen groups, dwindling fish stock  force fishermen to venture into the territorial waters of other countries.  Most of the fishermen are from Kanyakumari district, which has sent around 10,000 fishermen to the Gulf.