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* Sri Lanka, India joint investigating committee to resolve the fishing issue permanently
Sun, May 11, 2014, 10:45 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

May 11, Colombo: A joint investigating committee of Sri Lanka and India will meet next month to discuss and reach a permanent solution to the nagging fisheries issue between the two countries, a senior official of the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquatic Sources said.

"As India is a country with which we have had friendly relations over a long period, the fisheries problems of our two countries have to be resolved through friendly discussions at a diplomatic level. It is therefore hoped to resolve these disputes through discussions at the joint investigating committee of the two countries," a Ministry statement said.

Narendra Rajapaksa, the Fisheries Ministry spokesman said a joint committee has been appointed as a result of the talks held between Fisheries Minister Rajitha Senaratne and his Indian counterpart Sharad Pawar in January this year in New Delhi.

According to Rajapaksa, the committee would look to bring permanent solutions to all burning issues and to promote goodwill between the two fishing communities.

Meanwhile, the second round of discussions between the leaders of the Fisheries Organizations in Sri Lanka, including the North and of the leaders of the Fisheries Organizations of the Tamil Nadu state of India, will take place in Colombo, tomorrow, 12th of May 2014.

The 2nd round of discussions is aimed at reaching at a permanent solution to the violations of the agreements reached in the first round of discussions held in Chennai on January 27 and also to the other problems.

For the second round of discussions, 18 leaders of fisheries organizations and 8 officials from the Indian side will participate and from the Sri Lankan side, 20 leaders of fisheries organizations and 10 officials will participate.

Sri Lanka representatives will include the leaders of the district fisheries organizations of Jaffna, Mannar, Mullativu, Kilinochchi Vavuniya, Trincomalee, Puttalam and also the leaders of the district fisheries organizations in the South.

The representatives of the fisheries organizations will talk face to face while the officials of both the countries will participate as observers, the Ministry said.

The second round of talks originally scheduled for March 13 did not take place due to the delay in releasing Indian fishermen from Sri Lankan custody and the talks were postponed for March 27.

At the first discussion held at Chennai both sides reached an agreement to completely stop using forbidden fishing gear troweling the Palk Bay sea area in question for a period of one month beginning from 10th February to 10th March 2014.

However, the Tamil Nadu fishermen violating the agreement engaged in illegal fishing in the Sri Lankan waters several times leading to the arrest of Indian fishermen by the Sri Lanka Navy. Although all the arrested Indian fishermen and their boats were released following an order from Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, the talks did not take place as scheduled for March 27.

Despite the impending second round of talks on Monday, the Indian Coast Guard on two separate occasions arrested 42 Sri Lankan fishermen and took their 6 vessels into custody last week.

The Ministry spokesman said the arrests, however, will not hinder the scheduled talks and the issue will be discussed with the Indian officials at tomorrow's meeting.

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