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Sunday, 10 May 2015

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Fisher Assn. to thrash out unresolved cross-border issue

A six-member delegation of Northern Fishermen's associations will meet the Minister of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development, Mahinda Amaraweera tomorrow at the Ministry to discuss unresolved cross-border issue. Director General of the Fisheries Department, M.C.L.Ferrnando told the Sunday Observer, . the meeting is explicitly to convey to Indian fishermen, the Northerners' unwillingness to the 'joint-fishing ' proposal put forward by the former at the last Chennai meeting on March 24, Fernando said. Ministry officials and Deputy Directors of Fisheries in the North will attend tomorrow's meeting, he said.

Elaborating further, Fernando said that at the Chennai meeting attended by fishermen's delegations of the two countries and high government officials of the two countries, the Indian side wanted Sri Lankan consent for trawl fishing, a banned method of fishing in Sri Lanka, in the Sri Lankan territorial waters 80 days in a year with the promise to phase out from that method over the next two years, in anticipation of alternative arrangements promised by their government.

The Sri Lankan fishermen wanted time to respond until they got back home and held talks with their communities, Fernando said.

Taking into account the severe depletion of fish stocks due to bottom-trawling , the damage done to fisheries habitats, including breeding grounds, and the acute livelihood problems of their fishermen, they were not in favour of the 'joint-fishing' proposals of their Indian counterparts, Fernando further said.

Their delegation subsequently met President Maithripala Sirisena on April 2 and the President endorsed their decision, The President of the Federation of Fisheries Associations of Mannar, Justin Soysa told the Sunday Observer. Justin Soysa also denied reports in sections of the Colombo-based Tamil language dailies, that a delegation of Indian fishermen had arrived in Sri Lanka to take part in the discussions.

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