Fisheries talks fruitful

After weeks of pain and agony, accentuated by the acute cash crunch that the Centre’s demonetisation process brought within its wake since November 8, the outcome of the India-Sri Lanka Ministerial level talks held in Colombo on Monday has brought some cheer to Tamil Nadu fishermen, particularly fishers from Rameswaram.

As per the decisions taken by both the countries, Sri Lanka will not only be releasing 51 Indian fishermen, all from Tamil Nadu, in their custody so far and India to release three Sri Lankan fishermen, but also the Island government for the first time in many months has agreed to consider India’s request for “release of fishing boats” seized by their Navy.

Rameswaram and Pamban Fishermen’s Associations office-bearers including Thiru. M.S. Arul and Thiru. M.S. David, said here Tamil Nadu fishermen wholeheartedly welcomed the proposed release of 51 Indian fishermen by Sri Lanka, who were apprehended in recent months for allegedly poaching into their waters while fishing in the Gulf of Mannar and Palk Bay sea areas off here.

The Tamil Nadu fishermen’s long-pending demand to free the seized boats, as it was directed related to the viability of their livelihood, now being considered by Sri Lanka was also an extremely welcome development, the fishermen’s representatives said.

However, they added that in the medium to long-term, the frequent attacks on the boats and nets of Tamil Nadu fishermen by the Sri Lankan Navy and arresting the local fishermen should be completely stopped.

Interestingly, in a conciliatory gesture, the fishermen’s representatives also said that the governments of both countries should assist the fishermen on both sides reach an accord on fishermen from both countries being able to “freely and responsibly” fish in the traditional fishing areas in the Gulf of Mannar and Palk Bay, without explicitly mentioning the fishermen’s traditional fishing rights around Katchatheevu islet. (Deccan Chronicle)

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