Fisherfolk along Dehiwala-Mt. Lavinia

Published : 9:05 am  December 7, 2017 | No comments so far |  | 


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beach left in the lurch


By H.M. Dharmapala and Kusal Chamath   

Residents and fisherfolk living along the Dehiwala-Mount Lavinia beach expressed concern about ignoring the issues affecting them despite continual representations to the successive government for more than 40 years. 
The fisherfolk pointed out that it was no longer possible for them to make a living with fishery and that many of them were already working as labourers in other areas to earn a pittance to maintain their families. 
A.Vidyalankara (50), a fisherman, said deep sea fishermen always had a bumper harvest of fish, but today they were not in a position to meet even their daily household expenses. 

“Our children are unable to have two meals a day. Sea erosion has been going on unchecked. Recently, Minister Susil Premajayantha instructed the officials to look into the hardships facing the affected families, but we have not yet heard anything from them. Our request for a boat anchorage has been ignored by the Fishery Harbour Corporation and the Fisheries Department. Several boats rammed into rocks and reefs and wrecked. During rough seas, our view of the beach on our way back from deep sea fishing is obstructed by trembling waves. We would be safe if we had a boat anchorage with beacon lights. Our representations in this regard to the Fisheries Ministry have fallen on deaf ears. We attended several meetings with officials to take up these issues but to no avail,” he said. 

Secretary of the Mount Lavinia Eksath Fishermen’s Society, Kumara Gomes said several fishermen had died when their boats hit the Kadamantha reef located feet away from the beach where they launch their boats. 

“We had several rounds of talks with ministry officials. They promised to resolve the issue but soon forgot it. When inquired, their excuse was shortage of funds. They are now waiting for allocations under the next year’s budget. They will forget it with the heat of the local government election. Hundreds of fishermen affected by the tsunami in 2004 are living in distant areas without any attention to their predicament. They have to come a long way to engage in their livelihood. Their boats and fishing gear are left to the mercy of the thieves. A businessman has constructed a building on land belonging to the fishermen’s society, which had been used as the fish auction ground,” he said. 

The fisherfolk requested the Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development Ministry and the Fisheries Department to look into their grievances and to devise an effective plan to resolve the issued affecting their livelihood.