India on Saturday decided to encourage a visit of associations of fishermen from Tamil Nadu to Sri Lanka next month to interact with their counterparts there, as a measure to address the problems being faced by Indian fishermen.
The decision came at a meeting convened by the Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao, to discuss matters related to fishing in the waters between India and Sri Lanka, in the backdrop of recent developments concerning the violent incidents, an official release said.
The Ministry said both the Centre and Tamil Nadu Government would encourage the visit of a delegation of local fishermen to Sri Lanka. “Such contacts have proved to be mutually beneficial and should be strengthened,” the release said.
The meeting, attended by Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary among others, welcomed the convening of the Joint Working Group on Fishing proposed for March. At this meeting, the proposed draft Memorandum of Understanding on development and cooperation in the field of fisheries would also be discussed.
The Government of Tamil Nadu referred to the ongoing efforts to inform their fishermen about the need to observe security and safety parameters while engaging in fishing activities in the waters between India and Sri Lanka.
Measures to further augment security in the vicinity of the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) were also focused on. Last week, the Indian Navy said it was tasked to come up with measures to resolve the problem. Among other things being considered is installing physical buoys across the 80 miles strip, lighthouse signals and caution beeps to fishermen through mobile phones to Indian fishermen straying across the IMBL.
Others who attended the review meeting included the Director General of Guard, Secretary (Animal Husbandry & Fisheries) of Tamil Nadu, and officials from the Ministries of Defence and External Affairs.
While satisfaction was expressed at the release of the 136 Indian fishermen by the Sri Lankan Government, the meeting emphasised that resorting to firing and use of force in such situations, as had happened in January 2011, had no justification.