Fifty-one Indian fishermen caught fishing illegally in Seychelles’ waters will leave on Tuesday afternoon on a special flight to India organised by the Indian High Commission – with only the ships’ captains staying behind to face the island state’s justice system. 

The sailors worked on board three vessels arrested on March 8 in a joint operation by a Dornier aircraft of the Seychelles Air Force (SAF) and patrol ships Le Vigilant and Etoile of the Seychelles Coast Guard (SCG). 

The court granted the prosecution’s request to further remand the captains in custody as they “did not have an abode” in the country and were, therefore, could “abscond”. 

The presiding judge, Chief Justice Rony Govinden, also said that the court would further remand them as “the offence is serious and is cause for national concern.” 

This is the largest group of foreign fishermen caught for illegal fishing in the waters of the Seychelles archipelago in the western Indian Ocean since the beginning of the year. 

As a deterrent, in August 2021, the Seychelles Supreme court imposed a heavy fine of SCR2.5 million – or $167,000 – on the captain of a Sri Lankan-flagged vessel intercepted in the waters of Seychelles who was found guilty of fishing without a foreign fishing vessel licence. 

Seychelles has a vast Exclusive Economic Zone of 1.4 million square kilometres, which presents a challenge for monitoring illegal activities in the island nation’s waters. 

Source: Seychelles News Agency