India, Lanka agree for JWG on fisheries

The ministerial-level talks between India and Sri Lanka on Saturday focussed on two major things, the formation of a joint working group (JWG) on fisheries and release of impounded boats
Fact File
Fact File

New Delhi

A host of other issues also came up for discussion during the talks in which Ministers of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj and Agriculture Radha Mohan Singh represented the Indian side, while Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera and Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development Minister Mahinda Amaraweera represented the Lankan side. Minister of State for Shipping Pon Radhakrishnan and Sri Lankan MP M A Sumanthiran also attended. 
In a key decision, the meeting decided to set up a JWG on Fisheries to meet every three months and hold a meeting between the Ministers for Fisheries every six months. The JWG would strive to find a permanent solution to the emotive issue of fishermen, a joint press statement said here. 
“The JWG delegations will include representatives from the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, the Coast Guards and Navies of both countries. The 1st Ministerial Meeting will be held on Jan 2, 2017 in Colombo,” the statement said. Expediting the transition towards ending the practice of bottom trawling at the earliest, working out modalities for handing over of apprehended fishermen and ascertaining possibilities for cooperation on patrolling were among the Terms of References for the JWG. 
The issue of release of detained fishing vessels will be discussed at the first JWG meeting, the statement said adding the Ministers noted that the process is underway for the release of fishermen presently in custody on either side. Both sides agreed on the setting up a hotline between the two Coast Guards, and expediting the provision of communication tracking sets to the fishermen. 
Addressing the meeting, Radha Mohan Singh said India is considering the modalities for implementation of a scheme to encourage deep-sea fishing. A special package is being worked out for Tamil Nadu fishermen to undertaken deep-sea fishing, he said in a statement.

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