Addressing a long-standing issue raised by Sri Lankans, India on Saturday agreed to work on faster repatriation of Sri Lankan fishermen who get stranded in Indian waters.
The Centre could not give this assurance on its own and hence, involved the States where the majority of these fishermen are arrested — either when they are indulging in poaching or stranded because of mechanical failure of their boats.
States, led by Tamil Nadu, have evolved a mechanism to repatriate genuine fishermen. Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands too have set in motion the process to create such mechanisms.
The fourth meeting of the India-Sri Lanka Joint Working Group on Fisheries held here expanded on the gains made in the March 2011 New Delhi round. The Joint Working Group agreed to meet every six months to sort out outstanding issues.
“The two sides agreed to enhance cooperation that would allow both countries to pursue their fishing activity in a safe, secure and sustainable manner, including discouraging fishermen from using destructive fishing methods. They also discussed measures for the expeditious release of bona fide fishermen from both countries,” a joint statement said.( The Hindu)