Dec 29, Colombo: The much needed meeting between the fishermen from Sri Lanka and Tamil Nadu state of India to find a solution to the nagging issue of fishing rights will finally take place next month.
India's External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid has told a delegation of fishermen from Puducherry that the meeting of Indian and Sri Lankan fishermen will be held on January 20 in Chennai with the agreement of the Tamil Nadu government.
All the fishermen arrested by the both sides for invading each other's territorial waters will be released before the meeting, the Indian Minister has assured.
The boats seized by the authorities on both sides will also be released, but in a phased manner, he has said.
According to the Director General of the Fisheries Department Nimal Hettiarachchi, currently 213 Sri Lankan fishermen are in Indian custody along with 40 boats while over 200 Indian fishermen and 70 boats are in Sri Lankan custody.
Sri Lanka says the Indian fishermen from Tamil Nadu despite numerous arrests by the Navy continually violate the international maritime boundary line and poach in Sri Lankan waters depriving the Sri Lankan fishermen of their livelihood resources.
In a desperate attempt to deter the Indian fishermen crossing the IMBL and stealing the livelihood of Sri Lankan fishermen, the government of Sri Lanka recently adopted a policy of detaining the Indian fishermen for lengthy terms and confiscating their trawlers.