Developing fish landing centres: Experiences and lessons from Sri Lanka

FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Circular. No. 1063

Developing fish landing centres: Experiences and
lessons from Sri Lanka

Simon Diffey
Chief Technical Advisor Restoration and Improvement of Fish Landing Centres
with Stakeholder Participation
in Management Project
Bishop's Stortford, Hertfordshire, UK

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Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
in collaboration with
the Canadian International Development Agency
Rome 2012


Diffey, S. 2012.
Developing fish landing centres: Experiences and lessons from Sri Lanka.
FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Circular No. 1063. Rome, FAO. 88 pp.

A significant amount of coastal infrastructure was damaged or destroyed by the December 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, and the livelihoods of many fisher families were adversely affected. While the reconstruction of the larger harbours and anchorages received priority from the donor community post-tsunami, the rehabilitation of the many landing centres developed at a slower pace.

Post-tsunami, FAO assisted with the preparation of a master plan for fisheries infrastructure rehabilitation and development. As part of this plan, a project was identified to support the longer-term objective of reconstructing and developing the inshore marine fisheries sector. This paper traces the experiences of this project – Restoration and Improvement of Fish Landing Centres with Stakeholder Participation in Management – the goal of which was to improve the livelihoods of fishers and fishing communities in tsunami-affected areas in Sri Lanka. This goal was broadened midway through the project to include postconflict areas in the north of the country following the end of the civil war in Sri Lanka in mid-2009.

This paper documents the experiences and lessons generated by the project, which it is hoped will serve as a source of information and inspiration for further work in the sustainable development of small-scale fishing communities and fish landing centres elsewhere. Attention focuses on the involvement of stakeholders, the practical aspects of the initial profiling and selection process for landing site development, and the importance of capacity development in ensuring sustainability of the project outcome. The methodology of the project with regard to infrastructure development, in particular the planning steps and procedures, the importance of the business planning process and training delivery, is discussed and the role of village-based institutions explored. The paper also provides an opportunity to present the comprehensive monitoring and evaluation process used by the project and introduces the use of a geographic information system as a management tool for the strategic planning of landing site development. The paper concludes with the lessons to be learned and a simple cost–benefit analysis of the infrastructure investment undertaken by the project.

Table of Contents

Preparation of this document
Acronyms and abbreviations
Executive summary




Why this publication?


Intended audience


Project context and rationale


Goal, outcome and objectives of the project


Project sites and geographic focus


Who were involved?


The FLC development process – a checklist


Other relevant publications


Project approach and methodology


Implementation framework


Setting the scene – how important is the sector?


Stakeholder identification


Buy-in to project objectives – the importance of consultation


The issue of land ownership


Selection criteria – the basics


Consultation and the participatory rural appraisal process


Needs assessment – the starting point


A non-prescriptive approach – every fish landing site is different


The importance of environmental screening


Capacity development – training, awareness-raising and cross-visits


Landing centre co-management committees


Role of government


Gender issues and how these were addressed


Planning infrastructure development


Landing site profiles and infrastructure development


The infrastructure planning process – steps and procedures followed


The Coast Conservation Department permit process


The preparation of drawings and bill of quantities


Tendering and contracting of contractors


Participation, livelihoods and capacity development


Who participates, when and how?


The sustainable livelihoods approach


Training of government staff


CFHC capacity development


Study tours and lessons learned


Strengthening community-based organizations to fulfil their management role


Supporting livelihoods and ensuring sustainability – the business planning process and asset co-management


The operations and maintenance manual – complementing the business plans


Involvement of the Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Sri Lanka


Data management, monitoring and evaluation


The project's monitoring and evaluation system


Master plan for rehabilitation and the need for a national database


Development of a GIS database


The project's "traffic light" system


Lessons learned


Project design


Capacity development


Promoting community participation in management and the importance of business planning


A role for FCCISL


The importance of a communication strategy


The importance of engaging community and district-based staff


The need for sustainable M&E activities


How to maintain the SANDS database


Construction and rehabilitation of FLCs


The economics of FLC development


Appendix 1. Map of FLC locations (traffic-light database)

Appendix 2. Breakdown of project beneficiaries

Appendix 3. Criteria for selection and prioritization of FLC development

Appendix 4. Supplementary checklist for coastal environmental screening of fish landing centres

Appendix 5. Infrastructure asset database

Appendix 6. Government officer training courses and workshops

Appendix 7. Result framework

Appendix 8. Traffic light database ("yellow" and "red" sites)

Appendix 9. Before and after situation of landing sites

Appendix 10. Cost–benefit analysis database

The designations employed and the presentation of material in this information product do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) concerning the legal or development status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries. The mention of specific companies or products of manufacturers, whether or not these have been patented, does not imply that these have been endorsed or recommended by FAO in preference to others of a similar nature that are not mentioned.
The views expressed in this information product are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of FAO.

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