Sri Lanka has rejected India’s request for a three-year period to phase out current fishing practices by Indian fishermen in the Gulf of Mannar and Palk Strait that separate the countries, a report in Colombo said on Sunday. It has also not agreed to other requests by New Delhi to release confiscated boats and grant 80 days of fishing to Indian fishermen in Sri Lankan waters, the Sunday Times reported.
Sri Lankan Fisheries Minister Mahinda Amaraweera told the daily from New Delhi on telephone that the issues could not be resolved during talks with Indian ministers, who comprised External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan and State Minister of Shipping P Radhakrishnan. The report said the Sri Lankan delegation led by Amaraweera and the foreign minister had failed to break the deadlock during the talks.
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India had asked for time to divert Indian fishermen to deep sea fishing, but Sri Lanka said three years were too long a period for this, according to the report. A joint press release after the talks in New Delhi said the two sides have agreed to appoint a joint working group to continue negotiations over the issues.
Member of Parliament M A Sumanthiran, part of the Sri lankan delegation, said close to 1,000 Indian trawlers operate in the Lankan waters, which, he said, was against the concept of sustainable fishing.
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