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Sri Lanka: Close to 18,500 vessels lost or damaged


Sri Lanka’s fishermen try to rebuild after tsunami

Close to 18,500 vessels lost or damaged

January 14, Colombo -- Sri Lanka’s fishing industry could take years to recover after the devastation of the Boxing Day tsunami says the United Nations.

Fishing is a primary source of livelihood for much of the population hit by the tsunami.

“Preliminary figures show that so far close to 18,500 fishing vessels have been reported lost or damaged,” said Miguel Bermeo, head of the UN in Sri Lanka. “This will hit already poor families hard, because fishing is what supports people in coastal communities and what keeps them out of poverty,” he said.

Over 80 percent of the fishing fleet may have been lost, according to the UN.

“This is just one area where the tsunami has put back development and slowed people’s rise from poverty,” said Christine Spoerel, Deputy Resident Representative of the UN Development Programme (UNDP) in Sri Lanka. The UN system will soon launch a major programme to repair or replace boats, engines and fishing equipment so fishing can resume in the shortest time possible. UNDP is collating and distributing statistics and information from a wide variety of sources about affected areas. This is being used by development agencies and NGOs to better target relief and reconstruction efforts.

“In the fishing industry, as in many other industries in this country, donors and development agencies will need to help the government rebuild,” said Ms. Spoerel.

The average price of a fishing vessel with fishing gear in Sri Lanka can range from about US$ 1,200 for a sea worthy canoe to US$ 45,000 for a larger boat with an inboard engine. With more than half of the country living on less than two dollars a day, many fishing families have been hit hard.

Over 7,500 fishermen were killed, 5,600 are still missing and over 90,000 displaced when the tidal wave hit on the 26th of December. Many support industries, such as cold storage facilities, icemakers, market places, harbours and anchorages were also lost.


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