The 4th Meeting of the Sri Lanka- India Joint Working Group (JWG) on Fisheries was held through virtual mode on 30 December 2020.
The Sri Lankan delegation, led by Mrs. R. M. I. Rathnayake, Secretary of the Ministry of Fisheries, was consisted of senior officials of the Ministry of Fisheries, Foreign Ministry, Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, Attorney General’s Department, Sri Lanka High Commission in New Delhi, Sri Lanka Navy and Coast Guard.
The Indian delegation was led by Dr. Rajeev Ranjan, Secretary, Department of Fisheries, Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying, who was associated by the representatives from Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying, Ministry of External Affairs, Ministry of Home Affairs, State Government of Tamil Nadu, State Government of Puducherry, Indian Navy and the Coast Guard.The meeting paid close attention to several bilateral issues pertaining to the fisheries.
The Sri Lanka delegation underlined the need to address the matter of illegal fishing in the Sri Lankan waters by Indian fishermen, which resulted in loss of livelihood and damage to fishing equipment of local fishermen. The Indian side elaborated details in regard to the legal action taken against such practices and the initiatives to encourage South Indian fishermen to engage in deep sea fishing and alternative livelihood.
Sri Lankan delegation conveyed the need to further enhance the joint patrolling and operationalization of the hotline between the Law Enforcement authorities of the two countries to ensure effective results.
The Indian delegation called on the Sri Lanka Government to ensure the early release of recently arrested fishermen by Sri Lanka authorities. The Sri Lankan side assured to facilitate the release of arrested fishermen early, once the legal procedures are completed. The relevant authorities have already granted the necessary facilities including consular access to the arrested Indian fishermen.
The discussion also focused on Sri Lanka’s request for a safe passage for Sri Lankan fishermen to enter the Arabian Sea. Both sides expressed the willingness to convene an early Ministerial meeting to continue the bilateral dialogue.
The First Meeting of the Joint Working Group was held on 31 December 2016 in New Delhi. The Second Joint Working Group was held in Colombo on 7 April 2017 while the Third Meeting was held in New Delhi on 13 October 2017.