Let us Proudly Commemorate International Year of Small Scale Fisheries & Aquiculture - 2022


Creation and notable events 

In 1992, an analysis of Sri Lanka’s economy concluded that the most adversely affected people by the neoliberal economic policies adopted in 1977 by the government were farming, fishing and plantation communities, and women in all those sectors as well as in the FTZ.

In each sector, the problem faced by women were recognized as significantly different to justify individual attention. PEFDA, the People’s Forum for Development Alternatives was formed to collectively search for viable social and economic alternatives in each sector. A commitment to collaborate among sectors is the foundation of PEFDA’s activities.

The establishment of a network of fisheries organizations in the fisheries sector lead to the formation of the National Fisheries Solidarity, which then evolved to become the National Fisheries Solidarity Movement (NAFSO). NAFSO represents the Small-Scale Fisheries Sector by covering Marine, Inland and the brackish water fisher communities, with a particular attention to women and children.

Because of the widening of the network among various communities irrespective of regions, religion, ethnicity and groups, differences emerged at SEDEC. In June 1997, NAFSO had to move out from its original venue to form an independent body of fisher people's organizations. The decisive moment was the critique proposed by NAFSO after analyzing the Fisheries Act No. 02 of 1996, which showed clear sign of the desire to eliminate small, vulnerable fishers from the fisheries and steps to privatize water bodies for industrial and other aqua culture practices.

In 1996, the Food and Agriculture Organization awarded the Margarrita Lizzarraga Award to NAFSO with the appreciation of its engagement on education and mobilizations of fishers on fisheries management with educating people on the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries (CCRF).

During the 2004 tsunami, NAFSO played a key role for people centred rehabilitation, resettlement and development program through the People's Planning Commission. (PPC). NAFSO was one of the key organizations to mobilize civil society actors on People to People Dialogue on Peace and Sustainable Development (PPD).
The work carried out by NAFSO allowed the formation of a land coalition call in 2005, which worked on land issues.

NAFSO directly engaged with the partner organizations of Negombo to form the Alliance for Protection of Negombo Lagoon(APNL), which lead to the victory against the sea plane project of the Government of Sri Lanka. With the experiences of the Negombo lagoon protection, NAFSO’s work was further deepened with the formation of the People's Alliance for Right to Land (PARL) in 2011. All this work to strengthen the small-scale food producers was rewarded when the Why Hunger Campaign selected NAFSO to receive the Food Sovereignty Award, in 2012.

The involvement of implementation of Voluntary Guidelines on Land Fisheries and Forest is one of important activity NAFSO engage in presently.

Since 2010, NAFSO engages with the wider civil society movement of the World Forum of Fisher Peoples’ (WFFP), the World Forum of Fish workers and fish harvesters (WFF), the International Collective of Support of Fish workers (ICSF) and the International Planning Committee on Food Sovereignty (IPC) for the formulation of International Guidelines of Small Scale Fisheries (IG-SSF) that will ensure the rights of the small-scale fisher folk communities around the globe. The IG-SSF will be the first one of its kind of instrument which was adopted in June 2014 by the FAO, the inter-governmental agency of UN.

NAFSO is currently engaged in the education of the wider civil society and pressurizes the Government of Sri Lanka (GOSL) to implement the LLRC recommendations, which are meant as a facilitating instrument to establish a democratic society in Sri Lanka.

A just and prosperous society, where resources are distributed equally, and peace, justice and Human Rights prevail for all people, regardless of race, religion or gender.


To ensure equality sharing of natural resources through empowering small scale food producers, towards, sustainable fisheries, food sovereignty  and personal integration and by strengthening People's Social Movement in Sri Lanka. 

  • In January 1992, the Director of SEDEC (Caritas Sri Lanka) was assigned to the Training Unit to Organize Fishing Communities in Sri Lanka.


  • In October 1993, the Fisheries Network (Fisheries Solidarity Committee) presented its first 5-year program to the CIDSE-APHD-SEDEC group for organizing fishing communities.


  • In June 1997, the Fisheries Solidarity Committee moved out from SEDEC, expecting to work in a wider perspective.
  • NAFSO represent the PP21 Sri Lanka coalition representing the fisheries’ sector in Sri Lanka in 1997.
  • In November 1997, NAFSO was a founding member of the World Forum of Fisher People’s (WFFP).


  • In March 1998, the National Fisheries Solidarity won the Margarita Lizarraga Award of the Food and Agriculture Organization.
  • In 1998, at Dodanduwa, the fisher leaders proposed to initiate the National Fisheries Policy concerning the real needs of the fisher folks through NAFSO.
  • In 1999, NAFSO participated in International Leadership Development Course (ILDC) Course in AHI, Japan and learnt Participatory Integrated Area Development Strategy, which was introduced to one DS division where the work was implemented as a Pilot project for the area development.

  • In 2000, NAFSO initiated the draft of a sustainable fisheries policy through research, advocacy and alternative programs with the fishing communities.
  • In 2001, NAFSO initiated the campaign against harmful fishing and destructive fishing practices island wide. NAFSO started to publish its own newsletter under the name DIYAWARA.
  • NAFSO’s Administrative Secretary represented the World Food Summit in 2001 (1996+5) and became a member of IPC South Asia. (Focal Point of the Fisher Women in South Asia). 
  • In 2002, NAFSO initiated dialogues and built close links with fishing communities in Jaffna, Trincomalee and Mannar areas after the MOU was signed between GOSL and LTTE.
  • In 2002, NAFSO become a part of the People to People Dialogue on Peace & Sustainable Development Program. Later, NAFSO began to coordinate the program.
  • In 2003, the NAFSO Training Pool became a permanent partner of AHI with NAFSO’s Administrative Secretary as convener.
  • In 2003, NAFSO hosted the World Forum of Fisher Peoples (WFFP) Coordinating Committee.
  • In 2004, the NAFSO convener was elected as the General Secretary of World Forum of Fisher Peoples.
  • On December 26, 2004, the Asian Tsunami hit Sri Lanka and 14 other Asian countries in the Indian Ocean. Sri Lanka lost around 42,000 precious lives of Sri Lankan citizens alone. It was the biggest damage reported at East Timor than Sri Lanka.
  • In 2005, NAFSO launched a massive tsunami rehabilitation, resettlement, reconstruction and reconciliation process under the NAFSO Post-Tsunami Development Program supported by various donors.
  • In 2005, NAFSO launched the People’s Caravan with the Asian People’s Movements towards the WTO and the impact over small food producers.
  • In 2005, NAFSO became a part of the Praja Abilasha Network of Land Issue and serves as the coordinating secretariat to the network.
  • In 2005, NAFSO start its independent website: nafsoonline.blogspot.com.


  • In 2006, NAFSO undertook the coordination of the Praja Abilasha Network
  • In 2007 NAFSO became a Partner of the APWLD Network as administrative secretary elect as a Task force member of RIW.
  • In 2007, NAFSO hosted the WFFP General Body Meeting in Sri Lanka and the Convener of NAFSO was re-elected as the General Secretary of WFFP.
  • In 2008, 10 NAFSO members attended the 4th SSF conference, which was held at Bangkok, Thailand and was organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization.
  • NAFSO’s new monthly paper, SINDUSARA, made its debut in 2008.
  • In 2009, NAFSO conducted an Inland Fisheries Research, which was submitted to the fishing communities at the World Fisheries Day Celebrations.
  • In 2009, NAFSO’s Administrative Secretary was elected as a BOOM member and focal point of South Asia.
  • In 2009, the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka gave an historic order to enforce the law against the illegal fishing in the country.
  • In 2009, Kappaladiya Fisheries Society in Puttalam district won the case and retained the traditional customary rights after struggling against hotelier through a Supreme Court order.
  • In 2010, NAFSO organized and hosted the APWLD regional WS regarding the violations against poor and marginalized women, as well as migrant women.
  • In 2010, NAFSO got involved in the struggle to protect Negombo Lagoon along with 3000 fisher folks and organizations. NAFSO’s Convener and the Sri Vimukthi Fisher Women Organization Coordinator served as the conveners of the alliance. The Sea plane project stopped and saved the fisher folks’ livelihood.
  • In 2011, NAFSO got engaged on land issues and formed the wider network of the National Alliance of Right to Land.
  • In October 2011, NAFSO played a supportive role in the weeklong hunger strike of four Buddhist monks and of a mother of crew members demanding that the fishers be brought back home after 20 months of detention.
  • In November 2011, NAFSO engaged in drafting the SL fisher peoples’ contribution to the International Guidelines on Small Scale Fisheries (IG-SSF) which was initiated by Food and Agriculture Organization.
  • In January 2012, NAFSO convened a wider peoples’ gathering on Land issue through Permanent People's Tribunal.
  • In February 2012, the Convener of NAFSO faced death threats and abduction attempts at the international airport of Colombo.
  • In March 2012, NAFSO staff and field activists received serious threats, and the Praja Abilasha coordinator was taken to the in-popular 4th Floor of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID).
  • In July 2012, NAFSO’s N/E program on Active Citizenship on Development Network convened the regional consultation on N/E rehabilitation, resettlement and development program.
  • In July 2012, NAFSO published an anthropological research among IDPs and WHF which was submitted to various groups including EU delegates and diplomatic missions.
  • In August 2012, NAFSO’s staff received special Security Training due to the serious threats, intimidations, surveillance, media smear campaigns.
  • On October 10th, 2012, NAFSO was awarded the Food Sovereignty Award by the Why Hunger Program in New York, United States.
  • In October 2012, NAFSO conducted a Food Sovereignty Campaign with the mobilization of various communities, regional, national, and international levels under the theme “Food Sovereignty Now: Assert the People's Right to Land, Water and Seeds”.
  • Between April and October 2012, NAFSO joined hands with the wider CSO representation in SL to raise awareness and mobilize communities for the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process on Sri Lanka.
  • In 2012, NAFSO was able to raise the issues of the IDPs in the N/E and bring attention from national and International levels on Mullikulam IDP issues.
  • In December 2012, NAFSO launched a survey among WHF in Trincomalee district and used its results as an advocacy tool to highlight the issues of the basic rights of WHF.
  • In February, a protest was organized at Thelipillai just before the March sessions at HRC, the IDP issues were brought to national and international scenario. This was done amidst lies spread internationally by the GOSL, who said: “There is no Single IDP in the country since 26th of September 2012”.
  • In March, the CRiDF project began and played a catalytic role in our work. It gave lot of strength to the women who felt helpless and economically down after the loss of breadwinners during the civil war
  • In April 2013, NAFSO published a research report on Land Grabbing in the Kalpitiya Islands by the tourism industry. This report was used as an advocacy tool against the land grabbing in coastal areas.
  • In May 2013, technical consultations on International Guidelines on Small Scale Fisheries (IG-SSF), in which NAFSO actively participated, were conducted. NAFSO members were educated on the content of the IG-SSF. 
  • In August 2013, NAFSO hosted the Civil Society Mechanism of Committee on Food Security in South Asian region and the IPC-Asia meeting in Negombo.
  • In August 2013, NAFSO handed over petition a to Ms. Navy Pillai, the high commissioner on HRC, on war IDPs and Land Grabbing and Indian Trawlers invasion in to SL EEZ.
  • In September 2013, NAFSO conducted a South Asian Regional Consultation on Voluntary Guidelines on Land, Forest and Fisheries (VGGT), which was aimed to prepare a Popular Manual on VGGT, in collaboration with WFFP and FIAN.
  • In October, NAFSO launched the report “Asian Land Research” on land grabbing in 5 Asian countries including Sri Lanka. NAFSO engaged into research work on land grabbing in the Kalpitiya islands.
  • In November 2013, NAFSO participated in the organization of the Human Rights Festival which was held by People’s Commission on Human Rights (PCHR). This was parallel to the CHOGM, the commonwealth head of government meeting held in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
  • On November 21st, 2013, NAFSO published the compilation of the experiences of people on the Sea Plane Struggle at Negombo lagoon.
  • In December 2013, four of NAFSO’s activists received threats to their lives from unknown people as they engaged in the Human Rights activities among the communities. These were since reported to the Special Rapporteur of Human Rights Defenders of the UNHRC.