Sri Lanka on Thursday said the fishermen issue with India will be referred to a high-powered committee meeting in June after talks between the representatives of the two fishing communities ended in a deadlock.
"At today's talks there were disagreements. Sri Lankan side was not in agreement to grant the India side's request to allow fishing in Sri Lankan waters," Narendra Rajapaksa, the fisheries ministry spokesman, said.
"Sri Lankan community representatives were vehemently opposed to the Indians' bottom trawling. They wanted a three- year period during which they will stop bottom trawling," he said.
Rajapaksa said that during today's meeting Sri Lankan fishermen told their Indian counterparts of their plight. They have resumed their livelihoods after thirty years of an armed conflict.
"They urged the Indian side not to exploit the Sri Lankan fishing resource that needs to be preserved for them," he said.
Asked how the issue would be resolved in the light of disagreement at today's talks, Rajapaksa said the matter would now be thrashed out at the high-powered committee manned by three officials from each side.
Rajapaksa said the six-member committee is expected to meet next month in order to find a permanent solution to the fishing issue between the two countries.
The committee was appointed as a result of the talks between the Sri Lankan fishing minister Rajitha Senaratne and his Indian counterpart, Sharad Pawar early this year.
Today's talks, which were scheduled to take place in mid-March, did not take place as the Tamil Nadu government protested the detention of Indian fishermen by Sri Lanka.
The Tamil Nadu government had demanded the release of all Indian fishermen before the talks could resume.
Sri Lanka had seized over 160 fishermen despite the agreements reached at talks held in Chennai in January.(PTI)