New Delhi: Fishermen associations of India and Sri Lanka on Wednesday held talks in which the visiting delegation rejected demands for relaxation of norms for Tamil Nadu's fishing trawlers, making it clear that their country will not allow foreign fishermen in its waters "even for a minute".
The 15-member Sri Lankan delegation from four coastal districts said that the Indian association had made an "implict" demand for a three year phasing out period from the neighbouring country's waters.
The demand that they be allowed to fish in Sri Lankan waters for 83-85 days per year for the next three years, especially in seas of Mannar and Palk Strait, was rejected, the Sri Lankan delegation said.
Today's talks come ahead of a meeting between Ministers of External Affairs and Agriculture with their Sri Lankan counterparts on Saturday.
The delegation from Jaffna, Mannar, Mullaitivu and Kilinochchi districts of Sri Kanka also demanded compensation for "ecological and economical damages" incurred due to Tamil Nadu fishermen.
The Indian side comprised fishermen from Tamil Nadu, senior officials from the Centre and Tamil Nadu government.
This was also one of the first high-level delegation talks on the issue between the two sides.
"We have conveyed to the Indian side that their fishermen should not cross the International Maritime Boundary Line. No Indian fishing trawler should enter the Sri Lankan waters and any illegal poaching will not be tolerated.
"We have also made it clear that fishermen straying in Sri Lankan waters would be arrested and later released, but their trawlers would be confiscated, said V Subramaniam, former president of Jaffna District Fishermen Association Federation and the leader of the delegation
"The Sri Lankan fishermen are not in favour of giving any kind of permits to fish in our waters. These are pre
requisites for talks," he added.
"We will not allow foreign fishermen to fish in our waters even for a minute," he asserted.
When asked about Chinese fishing trawlers fishing in its waters, the delegation said it had a uniform policy of not allowing any foreign vessel in its territory.
Another delegation member, a Mariyarasa from Mullaitivu, accused the Indian fishermen of causing them economic losses by fishing in their prawn-rich sea.
"Even before we could harvest the fish, trawlers from Tamil Nadu enter our waters, resulting in huge economic losses.
"Unless there is no sustainable policy, we will implement our domestic rules and arrest (foreign) fishermen, but release them," Mariyarasa said.
The issue of Indian fishermen being arrested by Sri Lankan navy is a sensitive matter, especially in Tamil Nadu.
According to the delegation, Sri Lanka has confiscated nearly 130 fishing Indian fishing trawlers and 400 fishermen. The delegation claimed that all arrested fishermen were later released.