Indian fishermen who stray into Sri Lankan waters will not be jailed in future but their boats will be seized, Fisheries Minister Rajitha Senaratne said today.
The Minister said that the move is part of a new initiative to be adopted by the Sri Lankan government on humanitarian grounds to deal with Indian fishermen.
He said this while speaking to reporters at a media briefing in Colombo today. The Minister said that the Indian fishermen are suffering as a result of the actions of the boat owners.
Minister Rajitha Senaratne also said that the Indian fishermen already is police custody will be freed soon.
Indian fishermen had earlier 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 said 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 said.
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. (Colombo Gazette)