A meeting between a delegation of Tamil Nadu fishermen and their counterparts from Sri Lanka on Tuesday ended here without making headway into resolving the festering issue of poaching in international waters.
During the meeting, the first of its kind to be held in recent months, the Indian fishermen asked for more time to stop fishing in Lankan waters as they were undergoing training to carry out deepwater fishing. The Indian fishermen were from the coastal districts of Ramnad, Nagapattinam, Rameswaram and Pudukottai.
The exchanges between the two groups took place after the Indian group met the Lankan minister for traditional industries and small enterprise development Douglas Devananda on Tuesday morning. Later, he facilitated a meeting between the two delegations.
According to the Indian fishermen, once fully trained in deepwater fishing, they would not venture into Lankan waters where they have been inevitably clashing with fishermen from Jaffna and other parts of northern Sri Lanka.
"No fisherman wants to be killed. All of us are in the same boat. We all take loans, we all starve and we fish where we find fish," said Arulanandam, leader of the delegation from Tamil Nadu. He said that as much as 70% of the fishermen had so far been trained in tuna fishing. Arulanadam was referring to the cases in January where two Indian fishermen were allegedly killed by the Sri Lankan navy.
The Lankan fishermen from Sri Lanka's north, who are ethnic Tamils, however, said they were not in a position to grant more time to the Indians as it was matter of livelihood.
Besides the killing of two Indian fishermen, more than 130 of them were also arrested in February when they were caught poaching in Lankan waters. The fishermen were released early from jail after the Indian government took up the case with the Lankan government. But more than a month later, the issue seems to be far from resolved.