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Govt set for fishing talks with Jayalalithaa


Direct talks between a Sri Lankan government delegation and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayaram Jayalalithaa have been fixed for this month to work out a mechanism to end poaching by fishermen from South India, Fisheries Minister Rajitha Senaratne told the Sunday Times. He said the meeting scheduled for January 27 would be a follow up to the talks he held with Indian Minister Sharard Pawar and Indian officials this week to resolve the poaching crisis.
“We hope to explain to the chief minister the impact of poaching by Indian fishermen and their use of illegal fishing methods. We will also present evidence, including satellite images, to show the damage caused to marine life by poaching and the use of illegal fishing methods by Indian fishermen,” Dr Senaratne said.
The Sri Lankan delegation will include Fisheries Director General Nimal Hettiarachchi, Additional Solicitor General Suhadha Gamlath and Fisheries Ministry Consultant S. Subasinha.

Dr Senaratne said the Sri Lankan delegation would also discuss the implementation of decisions taken at this week’s talks with the Indian minister and officials in New Delhi. The Sri Lankan delegation will be joined by a team of fisheries representatives from Jaffna, Mullaitivu, Mannar and the south. The Government’s decision to hold direct talks with the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister is seen as a shift in its stance that it would engage only the Indian central government to resolve the long standing fishing dispute.
Fishermen swap: Pix show Indian fishermen and Lankan fishermen
“We see this as a good trend to have talks with the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister. We are in a better position to explain ourselves on the fishing issue,” the minister said.  India and Sri Lanka will tomorrow start releasing the fishing boats taken into custody for intruding into each other’s territorial waters. Some 34 Sri Lankan fishing trawlers are held in India while Sri Lanka has in its custody 90 Indian vessels.
The two countries this week started releasing fishermen in each other’s jails. Yesterday, Sri Lanka released 111 Indian fishermen while India reciprocated by releasing 111 Sri Lankan fishermen. On Wednesday 52 fishermen each were released by the two countries.  This week, Sri Lanka and India agreed to appoint a committee jointly led by Dr. Senaratne and Mr. Pawar to resolve the fishing dispute.
“During these talks it was agreed that all fishermen and vessels in custody in the two countries will be released before January 31. If any arrests are made in the future, they would be referred to the committee,” Dr. Senaratne said.