New Delhi, July 29 (IANS) External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Friday chaired a meeting to discuss the way forward towards a permanent solution to the fishermen’s issue between India and Sri Lanka.
Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare/ Fisheries Radha Mohan Singh co-chaired the meeting, which was also attended by Minister of State for Transport, Highways and Shipping Radha Krishnan.
The meeting was held in the context of the invitation to Sri Lankan Minister of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development Mahinda Amaraweera to visit India in August for discussions, according to a statement issued by the External Affairs Ministry.
The release of 77 Indian fishermen on July 25-26 and their repatriation to India on July 27 set the immediate backdrop to the meeting.
“The Ninth India-Sri Lanka Joint Commission meeting on February 5, 2016, had agreed on the need to work out a permanent solution to the fishermen issue during a visit by the Minister of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development of Sri Lanka to India,” the statement said.
The discussions between stakeholders on the Indian side focussed on different aspects requiring attention, including the livelihood concerns of Indian fishermen and introduction of sustainable fishing practices.
“All stakeholders agreed with External Affairs Minister that it was important to resolve the issues quickly,” the statement said.
“There was consensus that the various measures proposed by the External Affairs Minister would help efforts towards a permanent resolution of the issue.”
It was also agreed that the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare and the Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries would take action on specific measures suggested to meet livelihood concerns of Indian fishermen.
“There was agreement amongst all stakeholders that practical and pragmatic solutions needed to be pursued so that fishermen on both sides can pursue their livelihood in a safe, secure and sustainable manner,” the ministry statement said.
The meeting was attended by representatives of the state governments of Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Odisha and 13 representatives from the Fishermen Association of Tamil Nadu as also five representatives from the Fishermen Association of Puducherry.
Besides, representatives of the Coast Guard, senior officials from the Ministries of Agriculture/Department of Animal Husbandry/ Dairying and Fisheries, Home Affairs, Defence, External Affairs, the Indian Navy and the Prime Minister’s Office attended the meeting.