By Chrishanthi Christopher
The Ministry of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources said yesterday (19) that Sri Lanka will be firm on its decision and will not allow Indian fishermen to continue poaching in Sri Lankan territorial waters.
The fresh outburst came following Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Strategic Action Leader and former Union Minister Dr. Subramanian Swamy's comment to media recently that India will request Sri Lanka to allow its fishermen to fish in the waters near Kachchativu for a specific period of time. He is noted to have said that the Indian fishermen have used the bottom trawling method of fishing and had exhausted the sea belonging to India. And, until such time that they repopulate their waters, the fishermen should be allowed to fish in Sri Lankan waters, he had opined.
Secretary to the Ministry, Dr. D.M.R.B. Dissanayke told Ceylon Today that the very conflict between the two countries is about bottom trawling and if they are allowed to fish in Sri Lankan territorial waters, the fishermen will exhaust Sri Lankan waters. He said that the agenda for the talks on 29 August is being drawn and allowing Indian fishermen to continue to fish in Sri Lanka waters had not been included. "Both parties have to agree for it to be included in the agenda," he said.
A three member committee comprising Director General of the Fisheries Department Nimal Hettiarachchi, Ministry Advisor Dr. S. Subasinghe and a high ranking Navy officer are to meet Indian officials in New Delhi to discuss ways and means of resolving the long drawn conflict between the two countries.