A meeting between fishermen from Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka is likely in the second week of January, 2014. President of Federation of Mannar District Fishermen Associations, Justin Soysa, told the Times of India that they expect the talks to be held in the second week of January.
A meeting was hosted by the Sri Lankan fisheries minister in Colombo last Friday where the Sri Lankan fishermen, who expressed concern about Indian trawlers fishing in Sri Lankan waters, were assured that talks would be facilitated with their Indian counterparts, Soysa said.
The fishermen alleged that though trawlers are banned in the northern part of the island, Indian trawlers cross the international maritime boundary line and undertake destructive pair trawling fishing. They cited the recent incident of Indian fishermen arrested from near Trincomalee as proof of Indian trawlers poaching in Sri Lankan waters.
Tension has been brewing in the waters that separate Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka for a long time with the navies of both nations frequently arresting fishermen of the other country. Clashes between fishermen too have become frequent. Fishermen in Nagapattinam had gone on hunger strike against arrest of their colleagues and called off their protest only on Tuesday after a delegation got the assurance from chief minister J Jayalalithaa that steps would be taken to get more than 100 fishermen, who were recently arrested by the Sri Lankan navy, released.
Fishermen from Rameswaram too are optimistic that a solution to the festering problem would be worked out soon. “The chief minister assured us help from the state government”, said S Emerit, who was part of a delegation that met the CM. The fishermen now want the Centre to take measures to organize talks between representatives from India and Sri Lanka.
U Arulanandam of Alliance for Release of Innocent Fishermen (ARIF) said the Centre is better placed than the state government in organizing inter-state talks. “The Centre must take up things more aggressively and talk to the Lankan government,” he said. More....