Tamil Nadu fishermen “willing to enter into mutually agreeable pact for peaceful fishing in the Palk Bay’’

Leaders of fishermen associations in the district have welcomed Chief Minister Jayalalithaa’s suggestion for dialogue between fishermen associations in the State and Sri Lanka in Chennai.

Reacting to the Chief Minister’s letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on this issue, U. Arulanandham, President of the Alliance for the Release of Innocent Fishermen (ARIF), said on Sunday that he thanked her for making efforts to resolve the fishermen issue.

Despite three rounds of talks held between fishermen associations of the two countries in 2004, 2010 and 2011, an amicable solution still eluded in the absence of a mechanism to ensure that fishermen of the two countries adhered to decisions taken at the meetings.

The proposed meeting would help to find a lasting solution, he expressed the hope, adding that representatives of fishermen associations who had taken part in the previous rounds of talks be allowed to take part in the proposed meeting.

Leaders of ARIF and Sri Lankan National Fisheries Solidarity (NAFSO) should also be allowed to take part in the proposed meeting for a meaningful dialogue, he suggested.

P. Sesu Raja, district secretary, Tamil Nadu Coastal Mechanised Boat Fishermen Association (Rameswaram), requested the Chief Minister to facilitate the meeting earlier than December.

“We are willing to consider and abide by some conditions that may be laid down by the Sri Lankan fishermen for peaceful fishing in the Palk Bay,” he said.

Mandapam Fishermen Association secretary M. Jahir Hussain said the Chief Minister’s letter to the Prime Minister was a significant development in her move to find a lasting solution to the fishermen issue.

A. Simon, Island Fishermen Coordinator (Pamban), said the proposed meeting was long overdue. The Tamil Nadu fishermen, who never wanted to disturb the livelihood of their Sri Lankan counterparts, were willing to enter into a mutually agreeable pact for peaceful fishing in the Palk Bay.

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