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India calls on Sri Lanka for early release of 40 fishermen


India on Wednesday called on Sri Lanka to ensure the prompt release of recently detained fishermen accused of poaching in Sri Lankan waters.

According to a statement from the Ministry of Fisheries, the Indian side also reiterated the need to release all fishing boats into Sri Lanka’s custody in accordance with the commitment made by the President of Sri Lanka during his state visit to India in November. of 2019.

This topic emerged at the fourth meeting of the joint working group on fishing via virtual mode, during which the full range of issues related to fishermen and fishing boats was discussed.

Referring to the recent ‘apprehension’ of 40 fishermen and 6 boats by the Sri Lankan Navy, the leader of the Indian delegation called on the Sri Lankan side to ensure their early release and, until then, provide the necessary facilitation , including consular access and necessary assistance. the statement said.

The Fisheries Ministry said the two sides also exchanged views on the status of cooperation between the Navy and the Coast Guard of both countries in patrolling, the existing direct line between the Coast Guard and related operational matters, cooperation in preservation of the marine environment, as well as the schedule for the fifth meeting of the JWG. The Indian side expressed its sincere determination to work in a constructive spirit with the Sri Lankan side to convene an early meeting of the Fisheries Ministers of both sides.

Earlier this year, during the bilateral virtual summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, held on September 26, both leaders agreed to “continue to engage to address fishermen-related issues through of periodic consultations and bilateral channels “.

The Indian side highlighted the initiatives India is taking under the new Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana and other schemes by the Government of India and the Governments of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry to diversify and reduce fishing pressure in Palk Bay.

The first meeting of the Joint Working Group was held on December 31, 2016 in New Delhi. The Second Joint Working Group was held in Colombo on April 7, 2017. Meanwhile, the third meeting was held in New Delhi on October 13, 2017.

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