Maungdaw, Arakan State: Burma’s Border Security Force (Nasaka) picked up seven Bangladeshi fishing boats on January 9 and 10 while the captains of the boats were fishing in the Bay of Bengal in Bangladeshi territorial waters, said one of the owners of a fishing boat.

The boats’ companies have been identified as Nuramin, Baila, Shuru Hussain, Sham Shu, Nur Alam, Mohamed, and Esuf of Shapuri Dip (Island) of Cox’s Bazaar District, Bangladesh.

Seven fishing boats with 12 to 13 fishermen per trawler went to the Bay of Bengal in Bangladeshi territory on the said days, and security force personnel of Burma took all of the trawlers to the Burmese side.

Today, all of the fishermen were released except the driver and Mazi (leader of the boat) for each trawler. Until now, six trawlers are still being kept by the Nasaka. The Nasaka asked the released fishermen to bring money 400,000 to 500,000 taka per boat within five days to have the fishing boats released, otherwise they would be permanently confiscated.

A released fisherman said, “Our companies are trying to secure the release of the fishing boats, along with the remaining crew members, by paying the money.”

Earlier, the Nasaka kidnapped Bangladeshi fishing boats from the Bay of Bengal while fishing over the allegation that the fishing boats were fishing in Burma’s territorial waters. However, fishermen opposed the allegations. The fishermen fear the kidnapping of the trawlers, so they never go into Burma’s territorial waters for fishing, said another fishing trawler company.