India-Lanka revive JWG on fisheries | Sunday Observer
Many contentious issues ironed out

India-Lanka revive JWG on fisheries

3 January, 2021

The fourth Joint Working Group (JWG) on fisheries between Sri Lanka and India, convened after three years, helped the two countries to iron out many contentious issues, a senior state official said. The meeting chaired by the Secretaries of the two Fisheries Ministries covered a gamut of issues related to fishermen and the boats which have been on the agenda of bilateral discussions between India and Sri Lanka for many years, a release from the Indian High Commission in Colombo stated. The encroachment of Sri Lankan waters by Indian fishermen and their use of illegal fishing gear had been an age-old issue faced by the Northern fishermen in Sri Lanka.

The meeting was held on an understanding of the leaders of the two countries.

Secretary, Ministry of Fisheries, R.M.I. Rathnayake and Secretary, Department of Fisheries, Ministry of Fisheries, Dr. Rajeev Ranjan chaired the virtual meeting last week.

The Indian side had called upon their Sri Lankan counterparts to treat the Indian fishermen recently apprehended by the Navy in Lankan waters humanely in the face of Covid-19 challenges and release them to their families along with the boats as soon as possible.

The Indian officials said that they remain committed to work with Sri Lanka constructively on matters relating to fisheries issues.

“The two sides also exchanged views on the status of cooperation between the Navy and the Coast Guard of both countries in patrolling, existing hotline between the Coast Guards and related operational matters, cooperation in preservation of marine environment as well as the schedule for the fifth meeting of the Joint Working Group. The Indian side conveyed its sincere determination to work in a constructive spirit with the Sri Lankan side for convening an early meeting of the Fisheries Ministers on both sides,” the release stated.

Officials of the Ministry of Home Affairs of India, Government of Tamil Nadu, Government of Puducherry, Indian Navy and Indian Coast Guard joined in the talks while the Sri Lankan delegation included senior officials from the Foreign Ministry, Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, Navy, Coast Guard and the Attorney General’s Department.

The first meeting of the Joint Working Group was held on December 31, 2016 in New Delhi. The second Joint Working Group meeting was held in Colombo on April 7, 2017 while the third meeting was held in New Delhi on October 13, 2017.