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"When thousands of Tamil Nadu fishermen come and carryout fishing using the bottom trawling method the Northern fishermen will be left with no place to fish"- Minister Rajitha tells the Indian Minister of Fisheries Sharaad Phawar.
 
 

"The fishermen of the Northern Province of our country have started their fishing activities again after the war. They never cross the Indian borders for fishing. They do their fishing within their limits in the North. But when Tamil Nadu fishermen come in thousands of huge crafts and carry on fishing according to bottom trawling method, Northern Fishermen have no place left for their fishing. This bottom trawling method of fishing they are using is banned in our country. This method of fishing has also been banned by the world food and Agriculture Organization and by the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC). Because of this method of fishing the bottom of our Northern sea and the marine environment get completely destroyed. In future there will be no fish left in the North" stated the Hon. Minister of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development Dr.Rajitha Senaratne.

            The Minister stated this at the recent Indo - Sri Lanka discussion held in New Delhi, India at the Ministry of Agriculture with the Minister of Agriculture Mr. Sharaad Pawer.

I will speak to the Chief Minister of Andra Pradesh about Sri Lankan Fishermen and take necessary steps. I'll give the maximum possible support from the Indian side - says Indian Minister of Agriculture Sharaad Pawer.

            “The Indian Central Government Minister of Agriculture under whom the subject fisheries comes, stated that he will speak to Andra Pradesh Chief Minister and take steps to get Sri Lankan fishermen in custody there released; that he will give the fullest support for the development of fishing in Sri Lanka and that steps will be taken to prevent Tamil Nadu fishermen entering Sri Lankan waters.

The Indian and Sri Lankan fishermen and craft in custody will be released in January. A joint committee for the settlement of fisheries problems.

 The Indo - Sri Lanka bi - partisan talks that were held on 15th January between the Minister of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development Dr. Rajitha Senaratne and the Indian Minister of Agriculture and Food Processing in New Delhi at the Agricultural Ministry have been successful. As a result the 129 Sri Lankan fishermen and 34 crafts will be released; the 236 Indian fishermen and 90 crafts now in Sri Lankan custody will also be released from January 17th. Both parties agreed to complete this release during January in batches.

Minister Sharaad Pawer taking into consideration the request made on this occasion, by the Hon. Minister of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development, Dr.Rajitha Senaratne that the 35 Sri Lankan fisherman and six craft to custody of Andra Pradesh should be released under the same arrangement, stated that he will have discussion with the chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh and that this group will also be released very soon.

            At this discussion Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne produced satellite photos and research notes to show that thousands of Tamil Nadu Fishermen enter the sea to the North of Sri Lanka and engage to fishing using the bottom trawling method. As a result not only are Sri Lankan fisheries resources harvested but the entire sea with the marine environment of the sea bottom is ruined, resulting in the extinction of fisheries resources in this area. This was established by means of satellite pictures and research notes. This resulted in Minister Power giving his full attention to this matter and accepting that a program should be prepared to tackle this problem. Minister Dr.Rajitha Senaratne proposed on this occasion that there should be a sustainable solution to these India - Sri Lanka fisheries problems and that for this purpose the two parties should appoint a six member committee. Minister Power expressed his full agreement to this proposal. Accordingly Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne proposed the names of Dr.S.Subasinghe, adviser to the Ministry. Mr.Nimal Hettiarachchi, Director General, Department of Fisheries and Additional Solicitor General of the Attorney Generals Department Mr. Suhada Gamlath to represent the Indian Government Secretary of the Indian Ministry of Agriculture, Dr. S. Iappen, Joint Secretary, Fisheries Affairs, Dr. Raja Sakhar Vundaru and Joint Secretary Ms. Suchitra were appointed.

This joint committee, through the participation of fishermen from both countries fisheries organizations, and specialists will collect material, have discussions and take steps to minimize fisheries problems. When this committee finds it difficult to take decisions both Ministers will directly intervene and provide the necessary solutions. The first meeting of this committee was held on the 16th of January at 10.00 am in the Indian Ministry of Agriculture.

Minister of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development Dr.Rajitha Senaratne expressing his views on this occasion stated as follows:

            “The friendship between India and Sri Lanka is a very long standing one. When I spoke against the quota system was to be introduced in the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission, the Minister Sharaad Power supported me directly. Similarly it is you who invited me to come to India to discuss Indo - Sri Lanka fisheries problems. I am very thankful to you for this. At the same time, I appreciate very much the steps you have taken for the release of one fisherman in India. For my part I will release all the Indian fishermen and craft in custody in my country. After the war fishermen in the North of our country have started their fishing activities. They never crossed the Indian borders for their fishing. They only fish within their limit in the North. However when thousands of Indian fishermen come in huge boats and catch fish, according to the bottom trawling method the Northern fishermen are left with no place for their fishing. We must look at this from a human angle. Violation of our borders is wrong. It is not the Northern fishermen who enter your waters for fishing. They are Southern fishermen. As a result fisherman and crafts from both parties have fallen into custody. Earlier when Tamil Nadu took our fishermen into custody, the matter was brought before the joint surveillance committee and the fishermen were released within a week or two. However this time the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister has not allowed this to happen. That is why this problem became very acute. So therefore I propose that fishermen and crafts from both sides should be released and a sustainable solution should be found for this problem. I will name three for my country. You also please name three for your country.      The bottom trawling fishing method used by Indian fishermen is prohibited in our country. This method is not allowed by the Food and Agriculture Organization and by the Indian Ocean Tuna commission. Because of this fishing method the bottom of the Northern Sea and the marine environment is completely mined. So there will no fish in the North in the future. A quick solution to this problem is expected from this committee of ours. We have also amended our Fisheries Act. According to this legislation fishermen who violate the sea boundaries of other countries can be punished in our country itself. The boat owner can be fined 15 lakhs of rupees; the captain of the craft can be given a jail sentence and a two - year ban of fishing activities. At the same time I am inviting Indian fishermen and entrepreneurs to engage in fishing in the Indian Ocean - we must have joint enterprises, strengthen the friendship between our two countries and have a program of work to improve the economic conditions of fishermen in our two countries". The Minister stated.

           The Indian Minister of Agriculture who spoke on this occasion expressed his views further as follows:

"I welcome you who have come here to our country on my invitation most warmly. I would like to convey my thanks as well as the thanks of my country for the support you have given for the solution of this fisheries problem. So, to begin with respecting your request, I will inform the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister to release in batches all the Sri Lankan fishermen and craft in Tamil Nadu custody. At the same time I like to thank you for taking steps to release Indian fishermen and craft in Sri Lankan custody. I will speak to the Chief Minister Andra Pradesh about releasing Sri Lankan fishermen and will take necessary steps. Also, I’m agreeing with the joint committee you proposed. This committee will be very important in the settling of fisheries problems of our two countries. I will appoint the secretary my Ministry and two other senior officers to the committee. We will get this committee to look into this problem and solve all our problems in this connection. Where the committee is unable to do some thing let the two of us as Ministers get together and solve these problems. Further let us take action to promote cooperation in the fisheries industry. For this I will give the fullest possible cooperation to this from the Indian side. Similarly it is very helpful to take steps to establish joint ventures by the two countries. For this too, my cooperation and the corporation of India will be given.

For this discussion, for the Sri Lankan side Advisor to the Ministry Dr.S.Subasinghe, Director General Department of Fisheries, Mr.Nimal Hettiarachchi, Mr.Suhada Gamlath, Solicitor General from the Department of the Attorney - General, Director operations of the Sri Lanka Navy Niel Rosairo, Media Secretary Ministry of Fisheries Mr.Narendra Rajapaksa, Director surveillance operations Department of Fisheries Mr.Lal Silva, Sri Lanka High Commission in India Mr.Prasad Kariyawasam, Advisor Ministry Fisheries Mr. Kapila Fonseka and the Chairman of Fisheries Association of Jaffna, Manner, Mullativu, Kilinochchi participated. The participants from the Indian side were Secretary Ministry of Agriculture Dr.S.Iyappam, joint secretaries Dr.Raja Sakhar Chandra, Ms.Suchitra Durai, Director of the Coast Conservation Task Force Kamansir Shri Abish Srivastava, Deputy Director General Fisheries Dr.B.Meena Kumari, Joint Secretary Sri Sanji Chopra and Fisheries Commissioner Shri Vishnu Khan.

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Last Updated Date 2017-03-27