Thiruvananthapuram: Fourteen fishermen were rounded up by the Indian Coast Guard after a long chase in the sea off the Kerala coast on Friday.
A Coast Guard vessel chased down a fishing boat for crossing the permissible limits and not heeding the official warning. The authorities were keeping a tab on the coastline of Kerala that had been put on high alert recently after a central Intelligence report said that Islamic State (IS) terrorists were heading towards the state.
The marine enforcement officials, on patrolling duty, had flagged a trawler boat from Sakthikulangara in Kollam for fishing outside the permissible limits off Valiya Thura on the Thiruvananthapuram coast.
While the authorities were trying to take the documents from the crew, the boat sped off. The marine enforcement boat too followed but the fishing boat sped away.
Information was quickly passed on to Vizhinjam and the Coast Guard C-410 high-speed boat went in pursuit of the fishing boat. The 10-member team led by commanding officer deputy commandant C V Tomy was able to almost catch up with the fishing boat within minutes. However, despite issuing several warnings, the fishing boat showed no signs of slowing down and continued to speed towards the north. The authorities then passed on the information to the Kochi centre.
The security boats in Kochi and the ships out in the deep sea were also alerted. Then a boat chase, similar to a movie sequence, played out in the deep sea for an hour. Giving no heed to warnings, the boat sped away at 15 nautical mile/hour and the official boat followed suit. The Coast Guard boat went ahead of the rogue boat at Maryanad and it gave in after it became clear that the authorities would shoot if the crew did not surrender.
The authorities carried out a search of the boat as soon as it was seized and the 14 fishermen on board were detained and brought to the Vizhinjam coast. Authorities questioned them in detail. Eight of the crew were from Tamil Nadu and six from northern India. The fisheries authorities said that they had a fishing license.
The authorities said that the 20 boxes of fish found on the boat would be auctioned and the amount levied as fine.
The authorities were suspicious as the boat sped off without heeding their warnings.