India, Lanka step up dialogue on fishermen issue

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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