Minister for Information Technology M.Manikandan, Collector S.Natarajan and Fisheries Department officials received the 16 deported Rameswaram fishermen when they arrived here on Wednesday.

They received the fishermen after they were brought from Madurai airport by officials. Additional Director of Fisheries Johny Tom Varghese accompanied the fishermen from Colombo and from Madurai airport. Deputy Director of Fisheries E Kathavarayan accompanied the fishermen from Madurai.

The minister said the government would strive to secure the release of over 180 trawlers confiscated by the Sri Lankan Navy since 2015 and detained in the island nation. The government would take up the issue with the Centre and ask it prevail upon the Lankan government to secure the release of boats at the earliest.

He said the government would consider providing compensation to the boat owners if their boats were damaged beyond repair and could not be salvaged. He said the state and central governments were taking steps to find a permanent solution to the fishermen issue and protect their livelihood.

A major chunk of fishermen who set out for fishing in the Palk Bay could be diverted to the south and avoid conflicts with the Lankan Navy once the fish landing centre in Kunthukal and fishing harbour at Mookaiyur were ready, he said.

More than 70% of the work in Mookaiyur has been completed and the harbour would soon become ready. After the centre and state governments offered huge subsidy, a large number of fishermen evinced interest in taking up deep sea fishing. This would help to avoid bottom trawling in the Palk Bay, he added.

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