Aug 24, Colombo: The Sri Lankan government has rejected a proposal put forward by an Indian political leader to provide a temporary license for Indian fishermen to fish in Sri Lankan waters for 3 years.
Sri Lanka's Fisheries Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne turned down the proposal made by the Senior Leader of the Bharatha Janatha Party Dr. Subramanian Swamy at the Defense Seminar held last week in Colombo.
"There is no possibility of agreeing to such a request. Nobody can take an arbitrary decision on this," Sunday Times quoted the Minister as saying
The BJP leader addressing the fishermen's issue at the Defense Seminar has said that fish resources have been depleted in the Indian side of the Gulf of Mannar and good export value fish and shrimp are on the Sri Lankan side.
He has reportedly suggested granting permission for Indian fishermen to fish in Sri Lankan waters on certain days of the week until India can restore the fish stock in the Indian side, which according to Dr. Swamy may take three years.
The suggestion has brought strong opposition from fishermen's associations in Sri Lanka's north.
President of the Mannar Fisheries Federation (MFF) Justin Zoysa had complained that Tamil Nadu fishermen are using illegal fishing methods and destroying their livelihoods and asked the Fisheries Minister to take action against the poaching by the Indian fishermen.
Meanwhile, officials from the governments of Sri Lanka, India and Indian state of Tamil Nadu are to meet in New Delhi on August 29 to hold a round of official level talks to find a solution to the nagging fishermen's issue.
The two countries held ministerial level talks on the issue in January of this year. Fishermen level talks followed the ministerial level talks and representatives of the fishermen's associations in Sri Lanka and India met on two occasions - first on January 20 in Chennai and later on May 12 in Colombo - to iron out a solution among themselves to share the resources in the seas between the two countries. However, the second round of discussions ended without reaching any agreements.
Meanwhile, Rameswaram fishermen, who have been on an indefinite strike to secure their boats seized by Sri Lanka, following appeals from officials dropped their plan to lay siege to a bridge on Saturday on the premise that the talks scheduled on Friday (August 29) will be positive.
Sri Lanka recently released all 94 Indian fishermen detained for poaching but did not release their 62 boats.