By Uditha Kumarasinghe
Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne said there is a bilateral agreement between the Sri Lankan and Indian Governments in which both countries have agreed to sort out the issue of Indian and Sri Lankan fishermen crossing the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL), through mutual understanding.
The bilateral agreement signed by Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa with the Indian Government in 2008 is still in force. Under the agreement, India and Sri Lanka have agreed to put in place practical arrangements to deal with bonafide Indian and Sri Lankan fishermen crossing the IMBL, the Minister told the Sunday Observer yesterday.
According to the agreement neither India nor Sri Lanka could complain to a third party. Therefore, the Government has no intention to seek any third party intervention to sort out the poaching issue, the Minister said.
Dr. Senaratne said, “India is our longstanding friend. We have to accept that India stood by Sri Lanka in every critical moment. India is a true friend of Sri Lanka. A small island such as Sri Lanka cannot simply fight with India.”
Regarding the fishermen’s issue, whether a country is big or small, there are international conventions which we have signed.
Both countries which are signatories to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea have agreed to accept and respect the IMBL. Accordingly, the Indian fishermen cannot cross into our territorial waters and our fishermen cannot do likewise, the Minister said. More....