Traditional equipment and boats still in use:
Kuchchaveli fishermen appeal for help
Fishermen prepare nets to go to sea.
The Kuchchaveli village is about 40 kilometres away from the
Trincomalee town along the Trincomalee-Pulmuddai main road. Fishing is
the main livelihood of the people living in the village. It is
stunningly beautiful, but there is no connection between the environment
and people's lives. Despite their attempts to improve the economy via
the fisheries industry, the shortage of resources remains a barrier to
achieve their goals. This community has sought assistance from the
Government to overcome challenges in the industry with technical
advancement. The fishermen in Kuchchaveli hope the Government will
extend material and technical assistance to improve the fisheries
industry as well as their living standards.
Their future depends on the assistance of the Government. The future
of the fishermen's children also depends on the improvement of the
fisheries industry. The children are compelled to engage in the
fisheries industry due to the lack of means to continue their education.
A Kuchchaveli fisherman, Abdul Raheem Abdul Majeed said: "There is a
shortage of fishing nets and essential fishing equipment. Some fishermen
had engine boats, but others used traditional methods of fishing. We
experience big losses and inconveniences due to the invasion of Indian
fishermen into our territory. They forcibly fish in our waters. Due to
such activities our fishermen who depend on traditional methods return
empty handed. They are unable to compete with the Indian fishermen who
possess giant vessels".
"A fisherman's harvest has declined from 100 to 15 kilos, per day and
sometimes even less. The income from fishing is not sufficient to manage
the day-to-day expenses. The investment on fishing is high but the
income is very low. On such occasions the balance has to be settled to
the boat owner from the next day's earnings. It is the normal practice
in the life of Kuchchaveli fishermen", Majeed said.
"A fisherman with engine boats will spend Rs. 4,500 to Rs. 5,000 on
fuel per day. But most of the time the harvest is less than the
expenditure. Another problem faced by the Kuchchaveli fishermen is the
landing of the fishing boats. During some seasons they undergo immense
hardship to drag the fishing boat to the shore as the angle between the
sea and beach is steep. In the past we have experienced loss of life too
due to boats sinking, Majeed said.
Jaya Nagar Fisheries Society boats.
Pic: Mohammed Naalir
|President Mahinda Rajapaksa has allocated Rs. 2,000 million to
develop fisheries harbours, jetties and fishing ports to improve the
fisheries industry in the country. The problem of Kuchchaveli fishermen
will be addressed soon. Steps have been taken to provide loans to
purchase boats and other equipment, Fisheries and Aquatic Resources
Development Ministry spokesman D.S. Narendra Rajapaksa told the Sunday
He said Minister Dr. Senaratne is committed to find solutions to the
fishermen's problems. He has directed the officials to take steps in
Fishermen's problems and their children's education problems will be
addressed simultaneously, he said.
Following a request by Minister Rajitha Senaratne President Rajapaksa
had relieved the fishermen from income tax. It had been effective from
The Fisheries Ministry has provided incentives to improve dried fish,
Maldivian fish and the salmon industry, the spokesman said.
The fully equipped Dickovita fisheries harbour was commissioned last
month and the Suduwella fisheries harbour will be commissioned by next
month, he said.
Most of the fishermen in Kuchchaveli area still use traditional
fishing equipment and boats. We go to sea daily surrendering our lives
to nature. Deep sea fishing is not possible with the equipment that we
have, he said.
The fishermen in the region collectively requested the Government to
set up a jetty in Kuchchaveli. Setting up a jetty will play a pivotal
role in the life of the fishermen. Some fishermen in Kuchchaveli use the
Pudavaikaddu jetty to anchor their fishing boats. Most refrain from
going to Pudavaikaddu as it is located over three miles away from
Kuchchaveli. Nearly 150 families depend on the fisheries industry in
Kuchchaveli. They know nothing besides fishing. The opportunity for
agriculture in the area is very low. Amidst huge difficulties a small
number of families practise agriculture. There are hardly any
opportunity for daily wage employments. Most people's lives depend on
Fisherman Yousuff Rafeek said he has been engaged in fishing for the
last eight years. During some periods the sea is rough and we have to
refrain from going to sea. Our boats cannot counter the high rising
tidal waves. Due to the lack of any other livelihood modes we are forced
to engage in fishing amidst the difficulties. We request the authorities
to provide us with modern fishing vessels, on a soft loan basis
considering our critical situation.
The chief Imam of the Kuchchaveli Jummah Masjid, Muhammad Yakoob
Muhammad Hussain said the angle between the beach and the sea is not
parallel always. Sometimes the beach is too steep. Then the fishermen
undergo much difficulty to take the boat to the shore and are forced to
seek the assistance of the people who come to buy fish. Sometimes there
isn't enough fish to distribute to the people who help. If a jetty is
set up these problems could be solved, the Chief Imam said. Another
fisherman, Hassanar Lebbe Mubarak said if a jetty is set up in
Kuchchaveli the living standards of a large number of fishermen would
improve. It could contribute to achieve the Fisheries Minister Dr.
Rajitha Senaratne's goal of eliminating malnutrition from the country,
"Fishing is our main job. The Government must provide us essential
equipment to improve the industry. If fishing boats, nets, buoys and
boat engines are given fish production in the area would increase
considerably. The equipment should be given on a subsidy basis. During
certain periods I engage in paddy cultivation. This year paddy
cultivation was also not successful", Mubarak said. We were not affected
by the recent floods. But the tsunami severely affected the fisheries
industry in Kuchchaveli. Since then we are unable to raise our heads, he
Temporary houses used by fishermen.
The GPS equipment is important for fishermen. It would prevent them
going missing. They could then go to sea without panic. There are two
fisheries societies in Kuchchaveli, the Jaya Nagar Fisheries Society and
Kasim Nagar Fisheries Society. There are nearly 40 members in the farmer
and over 140 members in the latter, he said.
"We have requested the authorities through these societies to provide
nets, satellite equipment and new engines. If these items are provided
to the fisheries societies the fishermen will be able to get the
equipment from the societies in case the boat engine breaks down",
Madhar Sahib Muhammad Yousuf who has been going to sea for 30 years
said he experienced a shortage of fishing equipment such as boat engine
and deep sea net. Anchoring fishing boats during rainy seasons was
difficult as there is no separate anchorage.
"Some fishermen went to sea with one who owned a boat. The boat owner
provided the fuel. The income is then shared between the fishermen and
the boat owner after deducting the fuel cost", Madhar Sahib said.
He requested the Fisheries Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne who is
working for the betterment of the fishermen to provide boats, boat
engines, fishing nets, hooks and fishing thread. These are the equipment
required by the fishermen urgently.
Madhar Sahib said the Indian roller boats which enter our territory
destroy the fish breeding spots. Our fish resource is plundered by them.
During some seasons the fish harvest is high. Each fisherman would
earn between Rs. 5,000 to Rs. 6,000 per day. It is not possible
everyday. During rainy seasons the harvest is very low, he said.
He said if the harvest is less than the expenditure, both the boat
owner and the fishermen would share the loss. Harvest is high during
February and March. Apart from deep sea fishing, some used dragging
nets. The fishermen in the area are not experts in dragging nets.
Fishermen from Negombo and Chilaw areas use dragging nets in the
During each season different varieties are available in the
Kuchchaveli seas. In some seasons Salaya, Thoru, Seela, Alaguduwa and
other varieties are found in the Kuchchaveli seas, Sahib said. A poor
income accompanied by the lack of essential equipment is the main
problem faced by the Kuchchaveli fishermen, Kasim Nagar Fisheries
Society President A. Nisardeen said. He said if these fishermen had a
smooth income their children would not need to go to sea.
In the past we used a place named Kasim Nagar Thotupala to anchor the
fishing boats. It was destroyed by the tsunami. The income of the
fishermen is not sufficient to purchase the required equipment. We
receive a fuel subsidy, but are faced with a shortage of other
equipment. We request the authorities to provide essential fishing
equipment on a subsidy basis, he said.