India, SL to set up joint working group on fishermen’s issue
India and Sri Lanka on Saturday decided to set up a Joint Working Group (JWG) on Fisheries to meet every three months and hold a meeting between the Ministers for Fisheries every six months during extensive ministerial- level talks here on possible mechanisms to find a permanent solution to the emotive issue of fishermen.india Updated: Nov 05, 2016 23:59 IST
India and Sri Lanka on Saturday decided to set up a Joint Working Group (JWG) on Fisheries to meet every three months and hold a meeting between the Ministers for Fisheries every six months during extensive ministerial- level talks here on possible mechanisms to find a permanent solution to the emotive issue of fishermen.
Minister of external affairs Sushma Swaraj and agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh held comprehensive discussions with Lankan foreign minister Mangala Samaraweera and fisheries and aquatic resources development minister Mahinda Amaraweera on “possible mechanisms to help find a permanent solution to the fishermen issues”, a joint press statement said in New Delhi.
Minister of state for road transport, highways and shipping Pon Radhakrishnan and Sri Lankan Member of Parliament M A Sumanthiran were also part of the two delegations.
“The two sides agreed on setting up of a JWG on Fisheries to meet every three months and a meeting between the Ministers for Fisheries every six months. The delegations would include representatives from the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, the Coast Guards and Navies of both countries. The 1st Ministerial Meeting would be held on January 02, 2017 in Colombo,” the statement said.
Expediting the transition towards ending the practice of bottom trawling at the earliest, working out the modalities for the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for handing over of apprehended fishermen, and ascertaining possibilities for cooperation on patrolling are among the Terms of References for the JWG.
The issue of release of detained fishing vessels will be discussed at the first JWG meeting, the statement said adding the Ministers noted that the process is underway for the release of fishermen presently in custody on either side.
Both governments agreed on the setting up a hotline between the two Coast Guards, and expediting the provision of communication tracking sets to the fishermen.
“The problems relating to fishermen and fishing in coastal waters between India and Sri Lanka has been a long pending issue between the two countries. The Ministerial Meeting today was an important and positive step, leading to actionable outcomes and a clear path towards a permanent resolution of the issue,” official sources said.
Both governments agreed to the request by the Fishermen Associations that there should be no violence and no loss of life in the handling of fishermen by the Navies and Coast Guards of the two countries.
The ministers also decided to encourage the Fishermen Associations of the two countries to meet every six months to take further their dialogue from the meeting held on November 2, 2016 in New Delhi.