India, Lanka step up dialogue on fishermen issue
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Last Updated: Sunday, January 15, 2012, 18:02
  
Colombo: Ahead of External Affairs Minister SM Krishna's visit here, India and Sri Lanka have agreed to step up dialogue among fishermen communities of both countries and discussed measures for faster release of those arrested for intrusion in each other's waters.

The two countries, at the fourth meeting of the joint working group on fisheries, also agreed to enhance cooperation to pursue fishing activity in a safe, secure and sustainable manner.

"They also discussed measures for the expeditious release of bonafide fishermen from both countries," said a joint statement issued after the two-day talks that concluded here yesterday.

The Indian delegation was led by by Harsh Vardhan Shringla, Joint Secretary in charge of Sri Lanka in the External Affairs Ministry, while the Sri Lankan delegation was led by Kshenuka Senewiratne, Additional Secretary in Sri Lanka's Foreign Ministry.

The 11-member Indian delegation included representatives from Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, and several agencies, including the Coast Guard.

During the talks, Sri Lanka stressed on the need to respect the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL).

Indian fishermen are often accused of straying into the territorial waters of Sri Lanka leading to their arrest by the naval forces of the island nation.

Krishna is arriving here tomorrow on a four-day visit. The two sides agreed to encourage a continued dialogue process between the fishermen's communities of the two countries through regular meetings, the joint statement said.

A delegation of fishermen's representatives from Sri Lanka is expected to visit India later this year.

India and Sri Lanka also held discussions on a memorandum of understanding on development and cooperation in the field of fisheries and agreed to work towards concluding the same at an early date, the statement said.

Highlighting the need for conservation of marine resources and protection of marine ecology, the two sides agreed to the joint development of fisheries and marine resources in the Palk Bay area and the Gulf of Mannar.

The two sides acknowledged that there has been a decrease in violent incidents involving fishermen after the signing of the Joint Statement on Fishing Arrangements in October 2008.

India and Sri Lanka underlined that their respective Governments attach the highest priority to the well being, safety and security of fishermen from the two countries.

"Both countries agreed that the use of force could not be justified under any circumstances, and reiterated in this regard the importance of extending humane treatment to all fishermen," the statement said.

Acknowledging that fisheries involved the socio-economic and livelihood dimensions of the fishermen living in coastal areas, the two sides agreed to enhance cooperation that would allow them to pursue their fishing activity in a safe, secure and sustainable manner, including discouraging fishermen from using destructive fishing methods.

The issue of fishermen's safety is also expected to figure in discussions External Affairs Minister SM Krishna will have with Sri Lankan leaders during his four-day visit here beginning tomorrow.

PTI


First Published: Sunday, January 15, 2012, 18:02


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