President Maithripala Sirisena has emphasised the need for an early solution to address the Palk Bay conflict involving fishermen of India and Sri Lanka.
Northern fishermen of Sri Lanka were concerned about the long-term damage caused to the environment and the sea resources, he told Indian Minister of State for External Affairs M.J. Akbar in New York. Akbar called on the Sri Lankan President on the sidelines of the 71st Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), according to a statement from the President’s office in Colombo.
President Sirisena was referring to the impact of bottom-trawling, a destructive fishing practice known to harm marine ecosystems. He urged New Delhi to work towards “an early solution” to the problem. Even as New Delhi prepares to host a high-level delegation from Colombo to discuss the fisheries issue soon, Colombo appears keen on banning bottom–trawlers.
Less than a week ago, Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera, who spoke at the ‘Our Ocean 2016 conference’ in Washington DC, called for a ban on bottom trawling. In his address Mr. Samaraweera underscored Sri Lanka’s commitment to combat Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) fishing. Indian fishermen, originating from Tamil Nadu, use thousands of bottom-trawlers to fish in the Palk Bay.
They reportedly cross the maritime boundary between the countries, often prompting arrest by the Sri Lankan Navy. President Sirisena told Akbar that both governments viewed the fisheries conflict from a humanitarian perspective, and swiftly released fishermen arrested on charges of trespassing. (The Hindu )