COLOMBO/CHENNAI:A 19-member Sri Lankan team, comprising 10 fishermen’s leaders and nine officials, will be participating in talks between the fishermen’s associations of Sri Lanka and India to be held in Chennai on March 24 and 25, officials said on Saturday. This will the third time fishermen’s associations of the two countries will be meeting to thrash out the issue of fishing in the Palk Straits and Palk Bay.
The first meeting was held in Chennai on January 27, 2014, and the second in Colombo on May 12, 2014. These talks had failed to resolve the issues.
While, the Lankan fishermen have been complaining about brazen poaching with bottom trawlers by Indian fishermen from Tamil Nadu and Puduchery, the Indian fishermen have been claiming that they have a “traditional right” to fish in these waters and that the Lankan fishermen should see it as a humanitarian issue.
Recently, Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had said in two media interviews, that Lanka has the right to shoot intruders, an assertion which raised political hackles in India. So far, the Lankan government has only arrested the intruders and detained their boats. There has been no shooting since 2011.
As on date, there are no Indian fishermen in custody in Lanka, though 50 Indian boats remain to be repatriated. In Chennai, one of the representatives of fishermen association told Express that 13 representatives from Tamil Nadu and four from Puducherry would attend the meeting on March 24. He said the talks are likely to be extended for a day depending upon their outcome.