The Indian government will send a delegation of fishermen from Tamil Nadu fishermen’s associations to Sri Lanka next month to discuss with their counterparts issues faced by both sides while fishing in the waters between India and Sri Lanka.
"Such contacts have proved to be mutually beneficial and should be strengthened," India's Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said in a statement.
The Ministry said the decision was taken at a meeting convened yesterday under the Chairmanship of the Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao also attended by the Chief Secretary of Tamil Nadu, the Director General of Coast Guard, Secretary (Animal Husbandry and Fisheries) of Tamil Nadu, and officials from the Ministries of Defence and External Affairs.
They welcomed the convening of the Joint Working Group on Fishing proposed for March, which would also discuss the proposed draft Memorandum of Understanding on development and cooperation in the field of fisheries, the statement said.
The officials expressed satisfaction at the release of 136 Tamil Nadu fishermen arrested by the Sri Lankan authorities.
The Government of Tamil Nadu discussed measures it has taken to inform their fishermen about the need to observe security and safety parameters while engaging in fishing in the waters between India and Sri Lanka.
Emphasizing that welfare, safety, and security of the fishermen will continue to receive the highest priority of both the Central and State Governments, the meeting also focused on the measures to further enhance security in the vicinity of the International Maritime Border Line.
Indian External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna addressing the parliament last Wednesday said, “we need to be conscious of the sensitivities on the Sri Lankan side and of the many Sri Lankan fishermen who have, after a long hiatus, started fishing in that area".
In a separate matter, the Tamil Nadu government said it will finalize the necessary arrangements, in consultation with the Central government to facilitate the participation of Indian pilgrims at the St. Anthony's festival at Kachchativu Island.