Over the past five years, other nations have captured 3,936 Indian fishermen and 468 fishing boats.
In a written response presented to the Lok Sabha on Friday, the Ministry of External Affairs stated that nations typically detained Indian fishermen on suspicion of allegedly fishing in their territorial waters. According to the relevant Acts of the various nations, cases including illegal fishing, trespassing, illegally crossing the international maritime border, etc., were filed.
“The government attaches the highest priority to the safety, security, and welfare of Indian fishermen. As soon as cases of apprehension of Indian fishermen and their fishing boats are reported, immediate steps are taken by the Indian Missions and Posts to seek consular access, ensure their welfare and also pursue their early release and repatriation along with their boats,” said the reply.
According to the Ministry, consular staff from Missions/Posts frequently visit local jails and detention facilities to check on the well-being of Indian fishermen housed there and to offer the necessary assistance, including legal support in worthy cases.
Additionally, foreign missions and posts contact law enforcement organizations to expedite the investigation and legal proceedings. The early release of fishermen was the main goal of the government’s efforts, but it was underlined.
The Ministry reported that the Indian Coast Guard regularly took action to instruct Indian fishermen not to cross the erroneously identified International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) through a variety of community engagement initiatives for the fishing community. According to the statement, the Indian Coast Guard ships and aircraft keep close watch along the alleged IMBL and guide Indian fishing boats into Indian waters to avoid being apprehended by neighboring countries’ Maritime Security Agencies.
“Given the humanitarian and livelihood dimensions of this issue, the government remains continuously engaged for the early release and repatriation of Indian fishermen along with the fishing boats and has put in place bilateral mechanisms to ensure cooperation and understanding between India and the countries concerned, to promote the safety and security of the Indian fishermen,” the reply said.