Sri Lankan fisher folk receive first donation

Sri Lankan fisher folk receive first donation


The first of a US$380 000 consignment of boat repair kits to help restore the livelihoods of thousands of Sri Lankan fishermen was handed over to the country's fisheries minister Chandrasena Wijesinghe today.

The donation, funded jointly by FAO and the German technical cooperation agency GTZ, represents the beginning of the implementation of FAO's US$20 million initial response to the tsunami that ravaged more than three quarters of the country's fisheries industry.

A number of donor governments and agencies such as Japan, Norway, Belgium, UK, Italy, EU, ECHO and the German government via GTZ have channelled their funding assistance through FAO for the emergency rehabilitation of the fisheries sector.

The repair kits will go to boatyards set up around the country by the Sri Lankan government to repair those vessels salvaged by the surviving fishermen. More than 7 500 Sri Lankan fishermen were killed by the tsunami and thousands of boats destroyed. The hand-over ceremony was attended by FAO representative in Sri Lanka Pierre Gence, Sri Lankan fisheries minister Chandrasena Wijesinghe and GTZ's country representative Roland Steurer.

Immediate relief project to last six months

"This is the first shot off the starting block of a programme that will develop over the next few months to rebuild the country's battered fishing industry" said Gence. The immediate relief project is due to last for six months and will then be followed by a longer-term rehabilitation programme.

Through these programmes, FAO will provide fishing nets and gear, as well as outboard engines and will repair damaged boats or replace those lost with new ones. This assistance will cover all the regions of the country. The north and east in particular - already made vulnerable by civil conflict - were badly hit by the tsunami.

FAO will also provide necessary technical assistance for the re-establishment of ice plants, cold rooms, fish collecting and marketing centres and rehabilitate the fishery harbours and anchorages.

"Our concern is not to reproduce the problems of over-fishing and wastage of the past. Our aim is to help create a new, sustainable fishing industry in close cooperation and coordination with the government and local people" said Gence.

Capital investments are also badly needed for the repair or reconstruction of industry infrastructures and public and private utilities such as ice facilities, fish landing ports, roads and the recreation of markets for Sri Lankan fish both domestically and abroad.

In order to ensure that all external aid is appropriately used for the entire benefit of the affected communities with proper accountability and transparency, and to avoid duplication of efforts by the different agencies involved, FAO and the Sri Lankan fisheries ministry have established a joint working group to co-ordinate the relief effort for the industry.

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