Indians propose open seas

Indian fishermen have now proposed ‘open seas’ as a solution to the conflict between Indian and Sri Lankan fishermen.

N. J. Bose, president of the Rameswaram Mechanised Boat Fishermen Association says an open seas solution would mean an area being earmarked where Indian and Sri Lankan fishermen can catch fish under a time table.

“The final solution should be acceptable to both sides. An open seas solution is one option where the Sri Lankan fishermen can come to catch fish at one time and then we go to catch fish at another set time,” he told The Sunday Leader.

The Indians cross the IMBL to poach in Sri Lankan waters, particularly near the Katchatheevu Island in the north as the area is filled with fish.

Last week Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa said she hoped that India will soon regain Katchatheevu which was ceded to Sri Lanka in 1974.

The National Fisheries Solidarity Movement however said an “open seas” solution cannot be accepted. Convener of the National Fisheries Solidarity Movement Herman Kumara said that such a solution will be in violation of the law of the sea as the Indian fishermen will then cross the IMBL and fish in Sri Lankan waters.

“We should follow the guidelines and existing rules and regulations on the law of the sea. If it’s going to be changed then there needs to be an agreement between both governments. In any event I don’t think our fishermen will agree to it,” he said.

He also said that there was no progress on the proposed talks between fishermen from both countries, and the delay allowed Indian fishermen to continue to poach in Sri Lankan waters.

Report by Easwaran Rutnam

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