India, Sri Lanka for better ties over fishing

March 30th, 2011 - 3:03 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, March 30 (IANS) India and Sri Lanka have called for better relations among their fishing communities, and agreed that there should be no use of force in the sea dividing the two countries.

The decisions were taken at a two-day meeting of the India-Sri Lanka Joint Working Group on Fisheries that ended here Tuesday. The last meeting was held in Colombo in 2006.

“To ensure the safety and security of fishermen, both sides agreed that the use of force cannot be justified under any circumstances,” an official statement said.

At the same time, Sri Lanka underlined the need for Indian fishermen to respect the international maritime boundary, whose breach they say has led to clashes — and deaths — on the sea.

Sri Lanka said it was investigating the death of two Indian fishermen from Tamil Nadu in the sea in January.

Both countries called for arrangements that would “further strengthen the safety, security and livelihood of the fishermen”.

They “agreed on the need to foster greater understanding between their respective fishermen and fishermen associations”.

A group of fishermen from Tamil Nadu visited Sri Lanka this month. A Sri Lankan delegation is to pay a return visit to India.

The two countries also discussed measures to expedite the release from jail of bonafide fishermen detained on charges of violating the maritime border.

The rapid expansion of fisheries in the northern coast of Sri Lanka, following the end of the Tamil Tigers two years ago, has led to increased clashes between fishermen from both countries.

Fishermen in Sri Lanka accuse their Indian counterparts of intruding into Sri Lankan waters with trawlers to catch sea food.

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