$ 62 m ADB boost to revive fisheries industry in North

Monday, 13 June 2016 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

lead-picOn the request of Government, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) has provided preparatory technical assistance to formulate a project to revive the fisheries sector in the four conflict affected districts of Jaffna, Mannar, Mullaitivu and Kilinochchi under the Northern Province Sustainable Fisheries Development Project.

The $ 62 million ADB supported project intends to support Gurunagar and three identified feasible fisheries harbours in Point Pedro in the Jaffna district and Pesalai in the Mannar district, V. Sivagnanasothy, Secretary, Ministry of Prisons Reform, Rehabilitation, Resettlement and Hindu Religious Affairs said.

The Northern Province was one of the most productive fishing regions in the past. Fish production has decreased over the years due to the past 30 year old conflict that prevailed in the region. Fisheries infrastructure facilities are in the dilapidated stage and the proposed ADB funded project intends to develop fisheries harbours, anchorages, landing sites, and related infrastructure facilities.

Prior to  the conflict, the Northern Province accounted for 40% of the marine fish catch. By2009 however it has declined to 7%. However, with the lifting of restriction to access coastal waters, the contribution has increased to 12%.

Prior to the conflict, the Northern Province had only one fisheries harbour in the Jaffna peninsula which later came under the state authorities and as such the province does not have a single operational fisheries harbour with modern facilities. As a result, the fishing community is unable to fully engage in off-shore deep sea fishing. Lack of fishing harbour facilities and multiday boats with other facilities were limitations to developing the fisheries sector according to Sivagnanasothy.

The initial Due Diligence study identified Point Pedro as a sustainable location with a concentration of fisheries activities and the study proposed a harbour basin of 12 hectares, and a five meter depth in the harbour basin are conducive for off shore deep sea vessel operations. It will be similar to Dickovita harbour and has the potential to enable the fishermen to reach international waters. The tentative estimated cost is Rs.6 billion. The facilities include breakwater, a Quay wall, an auction hall, cool room and ice plants, and berthing, dredging and boat repairing facilities etc. This will enable the multiday boats to use the harbour for offshore deep sea fishing.     

The Gurunagar fishing harbour located in Jaffna district is proposed to be developed under the ADB Project with the depth of 2.5 meters. The tentative estimated cost is Rs.4.8 billion. Currently, a large number of one day boats and smaller boats are operating and the proposed facilities to be developed include marine structures such as breakwater, a Quay wall, an auction hall, cool room and ice plants, and berthing, dredging and boat repairing facilities etc. This will enable the multiday boats to use the harbour for offshore deep sea fishing despite the limitation of shallow water.

The third harbour will be developed in Pesalai, Mannar which is currently shallow but crowded with one day fishing boats and shore facilities are not available. It is proposed to have a depth of 3.5 meters here to support multiday offshore deep sea fishing. 

Currently in the Northern Province inadequate shelter from the northeast monsoon, inadequate depth for access and mooring, inadequate space for beach landing, and inadequate shore facilities have been constraints for fishing and boats are moored in shallow water.

Sivagnanasothy said the proposed ADB funded project therefore,  aims to develop and strengthen anchorages by protection through breakwaters, dredging of basins, access channels and development of shore facilities. It is proposed to develop anchorages in twelve (12)  sites in the Northern Province covering Mathagal, Munai, Polikandy east, Valvettithurai, Athkovilady, Thondamanaru, Mandaithivu and Thalathurai in Delft in Jaffna distirct and Pannakaddikoddu in Mannar and Palikuda, Nachchikuda and Valaikadu in Kilinochchi. 

Further, a large number of landing sites will be developed mainly with shore facilities but without marine structures, in Jaffna, Mullaitivu, Mannar and Kilinochchi said the Ministry Secretary. Due Diligence will cover possible developments in the landing sites such as Sampodai, Kakkaithivu, Aralithurai, Sakkodai, Senthankulam, Punkuduthivu, Kolombuthurai and Chulipuram in the Jaffna District and some other sites in the above mentioned districts.

The project will also support aquaculture development specially the brackish water aquaculture, non-conventional livelihood activities such as sea cucumber, seaweed culture and crab fattening which have high income and export potentials. 

The Ministry of Prison Reforms, Rehabilitation, Resettlement and Hindu Religious Affairs will be the executing agency for the $ 62 Million project and work in close collaboration with Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, Ceylon Fisheries Harbour Corporation, National Aquatic Development Authority and other relevant agencies to implement the project. The project once completed will be the major boost to the fisheries sector in the Northern Province and contribute to improving the livelihood development of the resettled and conflict affected families.