Fishing is a vital source of income and nutrition for many Sri Lankan families. An estimated 70% of Sri Lanka's protein consumption comes from its 1,770 kilometers of coastline or its thousands of inland reservoirs. Although the demand for fresh fish is high, small-scale rural fishermen face many challenges.
The coastal areas that are accessible by small, one-day boats are becoming over-fished, a problem which is exacerbated by the on-going destruction of mangrove forests and coral reefs. Small-scale fishers do not have the resources to shift to deep sea fishing or aquaculture, and they complain that their coastal catch has declined to the point that is difficult to cover fuel expenses and still feed their families.
Even when small-scale fishermen do have a successful catch, they face marketing problems. With no storage, processing or transport facilities of their own, they are forced to sell their catch quickly before it spoils. The fish trade is dominated by a relatively small group of traders who capture most of the value of the supply chain. Families that depend on small-scale coastal, lagoon and inland fishing are among the poorest groups in the country.
In addition to these difficulties, most of the fishing communities that Sevalanka works with have also been directly affected by both the December 2004 tsunami and 25 years of war. People have lost their homes, boats, nets and loved ones. There are many widows and women-headed families in coastal fishing areas.
Examples of our fisheries support services include:
Helping disaster-affected fishing communities repair and replace damaged equipment and infrastructure
Providing microfinance services to reduce dependency on high-interest credit from middlemen-traders
Training community members, particularly women, in state-of-the-art techniques for drying, preserving and processing fish
Supporting diversification through seaweed cultivation and low-impact aquaculture systems
Establishing facilities for boat construction and repairs, engine storage, engine maintenance and radio communications
Investing in fish processing facilities, ice plants, cool rooms, cooler trucks and retail outlets for fishing gear
Coordinating mangrove and coral reef awareness and restoration programs
Assisting CBOs with collective marketing programs and direct trade linkages