Troubled waters: Need to resolve Tamil fishermen issue, says Ranil Wickremesinghe

Emphasising the need to resolve the Tamil fishermen issue, Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on Thursday said unless a solution is found, there will be a "lot of problems" for the country's fishermen who are being deprived of their catch.

Wickremesinghe, who met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday, said he has taken up the matter with his Indian counterpart and plans to arrange a meeting of ministers concerned in this regard.

Fishermen from Tamil Nadu being detained and their boats getting captured by Sri Lankan authorities has been a sensitive political issue in the state.

"Fishermen from both sides are Tamils. The dispute is in the waters where the Sri Lankan Tamil fishermen fish. Generally, we don't keep them (Indian fishermen) in custody and few were released before I came here. We have not kept anyone but we have to find a solution and that has to come. (Otherwise) there will be a lot of problems in Sri Lanka," Wickremesinghe said in New Delhi.

He was responding to a query on whether the whole issue of Tamil fishermen has been resolved or not.

"We told him that we are arranging for the ministers to come and finalise it and make some progress. Water trawling is a big issue and that is damaging fishes," he said when asked whether the Tamil fishermen issue was discussed with Modi.

Addressing a press conference on the sidelines of the India Economic Summit, he said, "problem of fishermen is that he can't find money and his catch is taken by someone else. They are coming under pressure."

When asked whether there has been good progress in addressing the issue, Wickremesinghe said there are talks in November. "I hope there is some progress. Lot of pressure is coming on our Ministers," he added.

Earlier this week, 12 Tamil fishermen were detained by Sri Lankan Naval personnel for allegedly entering island waters and later released after a warning.

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