PEOPLES' POLICY FOR SUSTAINABLE FISHERIES INDUSTRY OF SRI LANKA
The exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and the coastal belt of Sri Lanka
The background of the fisheries industry of Sri Lanka
Lankan fishermen and other citizens of the country are fortunate to
have their country is being placed in the Indian Ocean where world’s
highest economic value fisheries resources are abundant and they too
blessed with many inland fresh water resources. The fishing industry of
Sri Lanka has a long history. It is mentioned that the original Sri
Lankan’s had their settlements closer to the ocean, river deltas,
lagoons and other fresh water lakes. Hence many of them were employed in
fishery. Even today many Sri Lankans who are traditionally fishermen
and they have their settlements closer to ocean, lagoon and other fresh
water reservoirs. Those early Sri Lankans first started fishing in
inland fresh water lakes, rivers and in lagoons. Later on they had their
fishing crafts developed for fishing in the sea.
After some time
with the development of social contacts with South India, fishing
industry was developed into a large economic sector where many people
had engaged as their source of livelihood. The fishing industry also
took shape as salt water, brackish water, and fresh water fishery. With
the expansion of the industry the traditions or the rules of the trade
was introduced and every body honored these traditions.
traditional fisheries industry had another phase after the independence
of the country from British colonization. After independence era the
industry had a trend for modernization with the government policy to do
so. As a result many traditions pertaining to the fishery industry have
been changing and modern technology has emerged above the traditional
fishery methods. In such a situation it is precautionary for the
fishermen to identify their fishing rights. Specifically with regards to
the marine fishery it is safer to do so.
Within the EEZ of Sri
Lanka 12 nautical miles from the coast is considered as the territorial
waters and the next 12 nautical miles adjoining to the territorial
waters is named as contiguous zone.
The balance of 200 nautical miles
is named as exclusive economic zone(EEZ). The length of the coastal
belt is 1585 Km and the continental shelf is about 30,000 Sq. Km. The
area of EEZ is 517,000 Sq. Km.
On land, coastal belt is about
24% of the countries land area where 34% of the total population of the
country is living. 60% of the countries total annual fish production is
contributed from the coastal fishery. There are also 260,000 ha. of
inland fresh water reservoirs such as canals, rivers, streams, lakes and
Production capacity of aquatic resources (Living and non living)
type of fish, shrimp, crabs, sea cucumber and other crustaceans belongs
to the above category. The non-living resources are the mineral
resources in the ocean. The sea-coast, marshy lands and mangroves are
natural resources which is vital for the dependability of the fisheries
economy. These environmental resources also prevent the sea erosion.
Unfortunately today the mangroves and marshy lands are destroyed large
scale by human activities.
When consider the contribution to the
employment opportunities by the fishing industry the direct employees
are 200,000 and those indirectly employed in the fishing sector are
100,000. In addition to this the government employment in the fisheries
sector has 5000 workers while private sector employment provided by the
fishery related industry has 40,000 workers.
The total value of
national fish production is estimated as US$ 100 million. It contributes
2.7% of the gross national production (GNP) of the national economy.
are 15 fishing harbors, 19 anchorage points and 600 landing points as
infra structure facilities of fishery industry. There are also 60 ice
plants and 06 boat manufacture yards registered in the country.
Source: Statistical dept. Ministry of fisheries and Ocean resources [MOFORD]
the prices mentioned above so far there is no system available for fish
distribution where the consumer would get a fair price. It is very
unfortunate that the Ceylon fisheries corporation(CFC) which was
established with the intention to safeguard the consumer as well as
small fishermen, haven’t served the both these expectations.
the Ceylon Fisheries Corporation(CFC) has the capacity to help
consumers and fisherman in this respect the active participation has
been minimum. For an example the fisheries corporation has purchased
less than 2% (1.7%) of the total fish production of the year 2000.
the above statistics are based on fisheries senses of the MOFORD, a
systematic study on North and East fisheries should be conducted.
In preparation of a sustainable fishing industry North east cannot be
neglected. North and East consist 2/3 of the countries coastal belt
hence the number of people employed in fisheries industry is fairly
large in this area. Therefore it is very important to make a proper
assessment on the situation of the fishermen in this region. We have
paid special attention to these provinces in preparation of a
sustainable fishing policy for the industry.
Source: Administrative Reports 1999 and 2000
is mandatory to register all the fishing craft based on the type of the
craft and the type of fishing gear used, according to the fisheries act
no. 2 of 1996. But the above statistical figures shows that only 20% of
the actual number is registered. The intention of the above act was to
introduce a systematic management of fisheries resources, the lack of
awareness of craft users and the administrative system which command
from top to bottom has failed to reach the objectives. It is utmost
importance to conduct awareness programs among fish workers to make them
understand the value of managed fishery resources and volunteer them to
register their fishing gear. But any sort of control system should not
bar the fishermen from their rights.