Crucial Indo-Lanka meeting on fishing

The India-Sri Lanka Joint Working Group on Fishing will meet tomorrow in New Delhi to discuss the proposed memorandum of understanding (MOU) on development and co-operation in the fisheries sector while also taking up the issue of Indian fishermen poaching in Sri Lankan waters.

External Affairs Ministry’s Additional Secretary Ranjith Uyangoda will head the Sri Lanka delegation which will include officials from the Ministry of Fisheries, the Sri Lanka Navy, representatives of the Sri Lanka High Commission in New Delhi and the Deputy High Commission in Chennai.

The Navy will be represented by its Operations Director Jayantha Perera and the Ministry of Fisheries by its Secretary Damitha de Soysa.

The Indian delegation will be led by T.S. Thirumurthi, Joint Secretary to the Ministry of External Affairs.
The meeting, for the first time in five years, comes in the aftermath of growing tension over the poaching by Indian fishermen in Sri Lanka’s northern waters.

The decision for this Working Group to meet at an early date was taken when India’s Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao visited Sri Lanka in January.

It was decided that at the Joint Working Group meeting, measures would also be taken to enhance contacts between the fishermen’s associations on both sides.

In February, more than 100 Indian fishermen who intruded into Lankan territorial waters were detained by Sri Lankan fishermen and later placed under judicial custody in Jaffna. This led to a diplomatic row between the two countries.

But the matter was settled with the release of the Indian fishermen though the poaching is still reported to be going on.

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