Sri Lanka has received a number of proposals from India to try and resolve the fishing row, but Colombo will take a decision only after consulting its fishermen, the Fisheries Minister said here today. "We have not given consent to any of the proposals although there have been many" Minister of Fisheries Mahinda Amaraweera told reporters. "No decisions will be taken without consulting our fishermen," he said. Amaraweera's remarks came following reports that Sri Lanka was planning to grant Indian fishermen access to fishing in Sri Lankan waters subject to conditions. Amaraweera said that despite pressures from Indian side none of the boats confiscated by Sri Lanka for poaching in Sri Lankan waters will be released. He said the government was keen to work for the welfare of the northern fishermen who have been affected by the continuous poaching by the Indian fishermen. "We have managed to get the ban lifted for our fish exports to the European Union.
The benefits of this will be soon enjoyed by the northern fishermen," Amaraweera said. Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena, during his visit to India on May 13, had discussed the issue of problems faced by Indian fishermen in his meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It was reported after the meeting that both sides sought a permanent solution to the issue of frequent arrests of Indian fishermen with India reiterating the need to build a dedicated mechanism for it. Fishing row continues to be an irritant in the bilateral ties. Sri Lankan Navy personnel have arrested over 70 Indian fishermen and seized 101 boats recently for allegedly fishing in Lankan territorial waters. The frequent arrest of Indian fishermen by Sri Lankan navy remains unresolved despite high level talks since 2014. Sri Lanka accuses Indian fishermen of straying into its territorial waters, while the latter maintain they are only fishing in their traditional areas, especially around Katchatheevu, an islet ceded to Colombo in 1974.