Both countries have agreed to hold joint working group meet at the end of December to resolve the issue related to fishermen

India and Sri Lanka will hold a virtual meeting of their joint working group on fisheries on December 30 to discuss the issue of the recent apprehension of 36 Indian fishermen and seizure of five fishing vessels by the Sri Lankan Navy.

Speaking at the weekly media briefing, Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava on Thursday said, “The government attaches high priority to the issue of the apprehension of Indian fishermen and seizure of their vessels by the Sri Lankan Navy on December 14 and 15.”

The two sides have now mutually agreed to hold a meeting of the joint working group at the end of the month to discuss the issue, he added.

Further, the MEA Spokesperson said that India and Sri Lanka have established a bilateral mechanism to figure out the solution and both sides are in close touch to facilitate the early release of the fishermen and their boats.

“We are in close touch with the government of Sri Lanka through our high commission in Colombo and the consulate in Jaffna to verify the information and to ensure consular access and facilitate the early release of the fishermen and their boats,” he said.

Noting that the issue has been on the agenda of India and Sri Lanka for many years, Srivastava said, “There exists a common understanding to handle the matter in a humanitarian manner.”

The joint working group, led on the Indian side by the secretary of the department of fisheries, is expected to address all issues related to fisheries between India and Sri Lanka, including the release of apprehended fishermen and fishing boats, modalities of communication between relevant authorities on the two sides, cooperation in dealing with issues related to the livelihood of fishing communities and other matters, he said.