Northern fishermen meet in Delhi to work out solution

fishermenMore than two years after the second round of talks held in Colombo on May 12, 2014 ended in deadlock, fishermen from Tamil Nadu and northern Sri Lankan fishermen are meeting in Delhi on Wednesday to work out a sustainable solution for trouble-free fishing in the Palk Bay. A delegation of fishermen would first have a meeting with Fisheries Minister D. Jayakumar in Chennai and then leave for Delhi on Tuesday evening, sources said.

The Indian Ocean Region division of the Ministry of External Affairs, which had had convened the ‘Internal stakeholders’ meeting in Delhi on July 29, had convened the fishermen-level talks, sources here said.

The Centre has invited a delegation, comprising five fishermen leaders from Ramanathapuram, four from Nagapattinam, two from Pudukottai and one each from Thanjavur and Karaikal in the Union territory of Puducherry to take part in the talks and the same has been conveyed to the leaders by the State fisheries department.

Accordingly, Mr. U. Arulanandham, president of the Alliance for the Release of Innocent Fishermen and fishermen leaders – P. Sesu Raja, N. Devadoss, M.S. Arul and S.P. Royappan – left for Chennai on Monday evening. Former MLA M. Ilango would represent Karaikal fishermen in the talks.

11-member SL delegation

An 11-member delegation from northern Sri Lanka was expected to reach Delhi on Tuesday for the talks, the sources added. “We are hopeful of reaching an agreement for a lasting solution,” a senior leader said, preferring anonymity.

The Indian delegation would press for the immediate release of five fishermen arrested on charges of poaching and 115 mechanised and country boats detained in Sri Lanka, the leaders said. They would also raise the issue of the Sri Lankan Navy attacking and chasing away Indian fishermen .

Making it clear that they could not be asked to abandon bottom trawling “all of a sudden”, the leaders said a sustainable solution could be worked out if both the fishermen were allowed to fish in the Palk Bay without affecting each others’ interests after sharing the number of fishing days in a year.

Fishermen leaders of the two countries had their first round of talks in Chennai on January 27, 2014. After making some progress , they had the second round of talks in Colombo on May 12 but failed to break the impasse. (The Hindu)

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