Tamil Nadu fishermen seek urgent talks with Sri Lanka

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe told Parliament last Thursday that bottom trawling by Indian fishermen is having an impact on the livelihood of fishermen in the North and East. Bottom trawling by Indian fishermen is a serious concern for Sri Lanka and the matter has been raised in Parliament as well. He said Tamil Nadu fishermen are prepared to sit down with their Sri Lankan counterparts to map out a time based solution top end the crisis.“We have had talks before with Sri Lankan fishermen but most often it is the businessmen who attend the talks and not the fishermen themselves. Some of these businessmen have their own agendas so the talks never go forward,” Emiret said.Emiret said that recently his association met Indian External Affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and urged her to take efforts to resolve the issue. Tamil Nadu fishermen have expressed the desire to hold urgent talks with Sri Lanka and reach a compromise in order to resolve the long standing fishing issue.Tamil Nadu Fishermen’s Association President S. Emiret told The Sunday Leader they are even willing to consider giving up bottom trawling if an alternative solution is provided to them. However Emiret noted that even some Sri Lankan fishermen engage in bottom trawling so it is unfair to only blame Indians.“Also don’t forget even Sri Lankan fishermen poach in Indian waters. So this is not just something to point fingers at us. We must discuss are resolve this issue,” he said. “We need to have three meals a day. The fishing industry feeds us as this is our job. We will look at alternative means if we really must give up bottom trawling to resolve this issue,” he said.Emiret also asserted that Tamil Nadu fishermen have no qualms with fishermen in the North and East and want to prevent the issue from hurting the relationship between both countries.When asked about the comments being made by politicians in Sri Lanka and India on the issue, Emiret said politicians look to take advantage of the issue and more often than not prevent the issue from reaching an end. However he said Tamil Nadu fishermen feel only direct talks with their counterparts will result in a solution acceptable to both sides. He said both governments need to understand that the issue affects the lives of ordinary people and so no one should play politics with the fishing dispute.

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