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India Fails to Honour Pledges Made to Sri Lanka About Preventing Indian Fishermen from Poaching in Sri Lankan Waters

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By Chris Kamalendran

Sri Lanka has expressed disappointment over the failure by the Indian authorities to honour the pledges made at the last round of joint Indo-Lanka talks on the fisheries issue.

Fisheries Ministry Secretary Rani Adhikari, who headed the Sri Lanka delegation at the talks held on Friday in Colombo, told the Sunday Times she requested the Indian delegation to implement the agreement reached during the previous round of talks to increase patrolling of the Palk Strait to prevent poaching.

The last round of talks was held in New Delhi in December last year.

Ms Adhikari said Sri Lanka also pointed out that though a hotline had been established between the Sri Lankan coastguards and their Indian counterparts, the action taken against cases of poaching was insufficient.

Sri Lanka had emphasised that the Government wanted to totally prevent poaching and not merely stop illegal fishing methods such as bottom trawling.

The Indian delegation said that New Delhi was trying to establish two fisheries ports for Tamil Nadu fishermen to prevent them from coming into Sri Lanka, but needed time to implement the project.

The Indian delegation has raised the issue of the recent incident where an Indian fisherman was killed in a shooting incident in which the Sri Lanka Navy was allegedly involved.

Ms Adhikari told the Indian delegation that baseless allegations against the Navy should not be raised and India should carry out its own investigations to ascertain what happened.

The Sunday Times learns the Lankan delegation rejected the request made by India to have access to the Navy report on the death of the Indian fisherman on March 9.

The Indian delegation accused the Navy of opening fire at Indian fishermen and demanded that fishermen issues should be considered as humanitarian issues without resorting to assault or violence.

An Indian High Commission spokesman said the two sides agreed to conduct another round of talks in July in New Delhi.

Prior to Friday’s meeting, Fisheries Minister Mahinda Amaraweera met fisheries association representatives from the north and said his intention was to raise fish export revenues to be among the first three foreign exchange earners. At present, the earnings lie at number 15.

The minister said that at present Sri Lanka was annually importing 120,000 Mt of fish and fish related products including tin-fish — and exporting only 18,000 Mt

Courtesy; Sunday Times

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