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India delaying Joint Working Group on fisheries - Rajitha

Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Minister Rajitha Senaratne says that the government is unable to offer assistance to Sri Lankan fishermen arrested for poaching in Indian waters as they have to face the consequences for engaged in an illegal activity.

“When Sri Lankan fishermen are arrested in India for poaching, and they ask us for help, we tell them we cannot offer any assistance. They have engaged in an illegal activity and will have to face the consequences,” Senaratne told The Hindu on Thursday.

The Minister observed that the issue of Indian fishermen poaching in Sri Lankan waters had become a major problem for fishermen of the northern province.

India is yet to get back on its promise of facilitating talks between fishermen of both countries, he said, adding: “Importantly, India has to host a meeting of the Joint Working Group on fisheries soon.”

The Joint Working Group, which was set up by both governments to find long-term solutions to the issue of poaching, was to meet once in six months, with representatives from both countries.

The last meeting was held in January 2012 in Colombo and it is now India’s turn to host the meeting but it was delaying the process, the Minister said.

The Sri Lankan Navy on Thursday arrested 32 Indian fishermen and seized four trawlers near Pulmoddai, off north-eastern seas, for illegal fishing activity. They were taken to Trincomalee for legal action.

The arrest comes days after 37 fishermen from Rameswaram and Pudukottai in Tamil Nadu were arrested off Thalaimannar and the Deft Islands on Monday.

Sri Lankan Navy spokesman Kosala Warnakulasuriya told The Hindu that the navy, over the last few weeks, observed an increase in the number of trawlers that came into Sri Lankan waters. “There seems to be an increase now both, near the north-western and northern-eastern seas,” he said.

Courtesy: AdaDerana

Posted on Friday, October 18, 2013 @ 14:35:25 LKT by

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