Government level talks aimed at finding solutions to the fisheries issue between Sri Lanka and India are no closer to beginning in 2016, with authorities in both countries continuing the practice of arresting each other’s fishermen on charges of poaching on its territorial waters.
Minister of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development Mahinda Amaraweera told the media in October last year that attempts were being made to commence government level talks aimed at resolving the issue. The statement was made after Sri Lankan fishermen’s associations refused further talks with their Indian counterparts aimed at finding solutions to the issue on the grounds that the Indian side was not meeting its earlier commitments.
However, Secretary to the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development, W.M.M.R. Adikari said talks were not even in the preliminary stage. She said an approach would first have to be made to the Indian government through Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. She said Minister Amaraweera had sought a meeting with Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera to brief him on this matter.
“This is a very serious humanitarian issue. Our northern fishermen suffered for 30 years during the war”, Adikari said, pointing out that it was terribly unfair that these fishermen continue to struggle even after the war’s end, due to poaching by Indian fishermen.
In the latest such incident on Wednesday night (December 30), the Sri Lanka Navy detained 29 Indian fishermen on board three fishing trawlers for violating the part to ensure that the country’s fishermen stay on its side of the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL). The detained crew were moved to Trincomalee coast and handed over to the Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources on Thursday, Indian media reported.