Decision was taken at the bilateral talks between representatives of State fishermen and Sri Lankan counterparts

Tamil Nadu mechanised boat fishermen, who were fishing in the Palk Bay, have decided to stay away from the sea for a month from Thursday, as decided at the bilateral talks held between representatives of State fishermen with their Sri Lankan counterparts on January 27 in Chennai.

As per the decision taken at the meeting and to take the talks to the next level to find an amicable solution to their issue, fishermen hailing from the coastal districts of Nagapattinam, Thanjavur, Pudukottai, Ramanathapuram and from Karaikal would stay away from fishing in the Palk Bay for a month till March 13.

During the bilateral talks, the representatives of Lankan fishermen from the northern region, expressed concern that the Indian fishermen, who used trawling came all the way to their shore and destroyed the fishing nets. They wanted them to abstain from fishing as a confidence-building measure.

They wanted the fishermen to display their willingness to find a solution and exhibit that they would be united in agreeing to conditions laid down by the Lankan fishermen before resuming the second round of talks, sources here said.

“This marked a new beginning in finding a lasting solution to the issue,” U.Arulanandham, President of the Alliance for the Release of Innocent Fishermen (ARIF), who took part in the bilateral talks, said. He was happy the fishermen were united and ready for a give-and-take approach to resolve the issue, he told The Hindu.

The Lankan fishermen should be convinced that their Tamil Nadu counterparts would abide by the conditions for fishing in Lankan waters if an agreement to that effect was reached, he said. The second round of the talks are likely to be held during the first week of March in Colombo, he said and exuded confidence of reaching an agreement.

P. Sesu Raja, district secretary, Tamil Nadu Coastal Mechanised Boat Fishermen Association, who took part in the bilateral talks, said fishermen of motorised vallams (country boats) should also avoid venturing into the sea to make the talks success, though they do not use trawling. Before the resumption of second round of talks, the governments should release all arrested fishermen held in Sri Lanka and India and create a conducive atmosphere. They authorities should also expedite the second round of talks, he said.

The Ramanathapuram district had the highest number of 1,650 mechanised boats and 2,300 motorised vallams. There were about 600 mechanised boats in Nagapattinam.

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