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SL says will launch talks with India on fishermen`s problems

Sri Lanka has said it would initiate a dialogue with India on problems confronting fishermen, who often inadvertently cross into each other`s territorial waters.



Colombo: Sri Lanka has said it would
initiate a dialogue with India on problems confronting
fishermen, who often inadvertently cross into each other`s
territorial waters.

Fisheries Minister Rajitha Senarathna said in Parliament
that he will visit India and discuss the matter with his
counterpart there. He, however, did not give a time-frame.

Besides, he said a monitoring system would be introduced
by Sri Lankan authorities to alert fishermen when they stray
beyond the island`s territorial waters.

"This will be done with the assistance from Japan. When
this system is in place, fishermen will be alerted through
signals. And if they stray beyond our territorial waters, they
will do it knowingly then," he said.

Senarathna also charged Indian authorities with not
properly observing the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea
while arresting its fishermen.

He said that there was no provision in the Law to arrest
or punish fishermen straying into foreign territorial waters
and that such persons should be released immediately on a bond
or security.

The minister claimed that Indian authorities had arrested
996 Sri Lankan fishermen during 2009 and 87 of them were still
in custody.

"We have now secured the release of 31 of them and ...
sent air tickets to bring them home," the Minister said.

Explaining the arrangements for the release of Sri Lankan
fishermen in Tamil Nadu, Senarathna said such things are
usually worked out within a month with the cooperation of the
State Fisheries Minister and the Sri Lankan Deputy High
Commissioner.

However, he said there was a delay of about eight months
in the process in other states of India such as Orissa, Kerala
and Andhra Pradesh, the Daily Mirror reported.

"The situation is even worse in the islands of Nicobar
and Andaman. These islands belong to the central government of
India. There is a red tape in the process, which we have to
face," the Minister was quoted as saying.

PTI

From Zee News

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