The stage is set for the bilateral talks between India and Sri Lanka fishermen here on Monday to find an amicable solution to the dispute over fishing in Palk Bay by Tamil Nadu fishermen.

Five-point agenda

The talks will be held on the DMS Campus in Teynampet for which the State government had put forward a five-point agenda.

The issues include reiterating free fishing rights of Tamil Nadu fishermen in Palk Bay; preventing seizure, confiscation of boats and fishing equipment by the Lankan Navy and discussing ways of recovering them fast; suggesting ways for fishing agreeable to both sides; exchanging information on distress incidents, and environment-friendly operations to ensure sustainable and viable exploitation of fish and fishery resources.

Twelve fishermen representatives from Nagapattinam, Thanjavur, Pudukottai and Ramanathapuram, one from Puducherry and 10 from Sri Lanka will take part in the talks.

A team of officials from Coast Guard and Fisheries department, including Fisheries Minister K.A. Jayapal and Fisheries Secretary S. Vijayakumar, would play the role of observers.

The Centre would be represented by Ministry of External Affairs Joint Secretary Suchitra Durai and Deputy Secretary Mayank Joshi and Indian High Commission official in Colombo Shiv Darshan Singh.

Senior officials of Sri Lankan Fisheries department are also part of the talks. 

An official release issued on Saturday said the resolutions passed at the Monday meeting would be implemented after securing the State government nod.

The State government urged the Centre to ensure that the meeting was held in such a way that it would not be prejudicial to a case filed by the Chief Minister, Jayalalithaa, on the Katchatheevu issue in the Supreme Court.

So far, 317 fishermen from Tamil Nadu, including 22 from Karaikal, who were accused of fishing beyond the International Maritime Boundary Line by the Sri Lankan Navy, and their 45 trawlers were released by the Sri Lankan authorities.

As a reciprocal measure, the State government released Sri Lankan fishermen and their trawlers in batches, the release said.

“The talks are expected to pave the way for engaging in fishing without fear,” the release said.

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