Rameswaram (TN):  A Sri Lankan court on Thursday extended till April 23 the remand period of five Tamil Nadu fishermen arrested by the Lankan navy on charges of drug smuggling, an official said.

U Arulanandam, State Coordinator of Alliance for Release of Innocent Fishermen, said the Mallagam Court Judge posted the next hearing for Monday, when the fishermen would be produced before the court there.

The fishermen were arrested by Sri Lankan navy on November 28 last year on charges of drug smuggling and were lodged in Jaffna prison.

Meanwhile, Ramanathapuram District Secretary of Tamil Nadu Coastal Mechanised Boats Fishermen Association P Seshuraja urged the state government to extend the annual 45 day ban on fishing for country boats fitted with outboard engines, as in the case of mechanised fishing boats.

Fishing was banned for 45 days from April 15 to May 29 as it is the breeding season for fishes. Though such a ban is intended to enrich marine wealth, country boat fishermen use this opportunity to go for deep sea fishing, which would affect fish breeding, he said.