Prof.A.S. Sosai ( Department of Geography, University of Jaffna, Sri Lanka, Email: email@example.com; Tel: 0094770842761)
Using illegal fishing methods in the form of dynamite, stupefying substance, other noxious, harmful materials or substance and bottom trawling methods are common practice throughout the coastal areas of Sri Lanka, especially in the northern Sri Lanka. As a result, marine resources especially, corals, mangroves, mammals the marine organisms of the sea bed and aquatic resources have not only been destroyed but also disrupted. In addition, valuable human life has been lost in these illegal processes. On the whole, it affects the entire fishing community.
The fisheries act 1996 of ministry of Fisheries and aquatic resources strongly prohibits the above mentioned illegal fishing methods. Further, the department of fisheries in Mannar has also taken action to prohibit illegal fishing methods, such as tree logs, concrete logs, stones, car bodies, monofilament nets, and tree branches for cuttlefish (squid) fishing in the district since 2010.
There was an urgent need for identifying the prohibited or illegal fishing activities and the use of dangerous or harmful substances in fishing. The present study was carried out in Mannar coastal area from June 2013 until the later part of December 2013. Such identification was focused on the major threats and impacts on the fishing community and the socio, economic and ecological impacts through case studies, field surveys and library methods. The study targets to find out appropriate planning and remedies to minimize illegal fishing and to save the coastal fishing community.
Fisheries is the main source of income in the Mannar district.According to the Fisheries and Aquatic Resource and Development of Mannar district,fishing population in Mannar consisted of 29,506 persons from 8,052 fishing families and 36 fishing villages,approximately 16% of the population of the district.When compared with the other parts of Sri Lanka, the sea of Mannar has remarkable marine environmental resources suitable for fishing.Two types of fishing methods are identified in Mannar ,traditional and modern Kaddumaram (theppam),vallam, are the boats used in traditional fishing.Set nets or Stake nets beach-seine,cast net,trap diving and hand line .These methods are used by 30% of the fishing industry in Mannar.Trawler (28-32feet,IBM) and (FRGB boats (17.5-23 feet,OBM) with gill nets,trawl nets and ring nets are modern fishing tools in use. The fishermen using gill nets are 65%, Set nets 20%, Trawl nets and other nets 10%. Around 5% of the fishermen dive for fishing.
Mainly the reserch has focuss only on the Stake nets.Locally the stake nets are called siragu valai or patti valai or set net.Two types of stake nets are used in the Mannar area, i.e,small stake and large stake.Small stake nets are used in shallow area of the northern part of Mannar from Thevampiddy to Konthaipiddy but cannot be used in the coastal area of the otherparts of Mannar
The stake net has a long tradition in the Mannar District, but its use has always been limited to the lagoon and shallow water area from Thevampiddy to Konthaipaddy. Its size has been limited, and only wooden poles were used and they are not permitted to be used in coastal areas of the other parts of Mannar. But subsequent to the end of the war, metal poles are used nowadays. The type of stake net described above, which has developed only after the war, is significantly different. We are also fully committed to the development of improved types of fishing gears, but not if they are clearly dangerous and affecting existing sustainable fishing methods.
A Large Stake net or pound net is a fixed fishing device that consists of poles or stakes secured into the bottom with netting attached. The structure includes a pound or Chamber with a netting floor, a heart,or wing and a straight wall or leader or fencing net (Figure1and 2). Large Stake nets are generally set close to shore and the leader is set perpendicular to the shore to guide migrating fish into the pound.
Set nets are large stationary fishing gear which are set in 01 to 15 m depth in the migratary path of the target species in order to guide them in to trapping enclosures.
(0.1) Study Area
Location of the study area is a Gulf of Mannar from south part to Vankalai area in the Mannar District. See the figure 01.
This study has three objectives like,
- To identify the operation areas of the stake net methods.
- Find out the major threats and impacts (socio, economic and ecological)on the fishing industry by the Stake net method and find out the appropriate solutions and remedies.
(0.1) Methods and materials
Primary data and the Secondary data related to the illegal fishing nets were used for this research such as modes of stake nets, Socio, economic and ecological damages, and affected fisher folk.
Direct observation and group discussion among the affected fisher folk in the research area were used as primary data. Secondary data were collected from the relevant institutions, such as DFEO’s office, and Fishermen co-operative societies’ reports the year of from January 2012 to December 2013. Some pictures had been taken by the Video camera. The primary and secondary data were analyzed through the descriptive statistical analysis for the result.
According to the research findings are higlighted bellow,such as components of stake nets ,socio-economic and ecological impacts in the particular areas by the stakenets as well as find out the appropriate solution and remedies.
(5.1) Components of the Net
A leader net which is of 30 to 50 m in lenghth depends on the size of the set net. Mesh size of the leader net ranging from 50to 65mm,is set at an angle between 130* to the migratary path of fish.The fish are guided by the leader net to the retaining area known as playground from where they move through the narrow entrance to chamber or pound area where they are caught and removed.
The fish are guided by the leader net to the retaining area known as playground. The playground area iss called Heart Net or Wing Net, with a pair of wings being made.
The fish move through the narrow entrance to chamber or pound area where they are caught and removed.
The gear depending on the type are either fixed to the ground by stakes in coastal waters.Modern large stake nets are constructed of synthetic netting material.Mesh size of the leader net ranges from 20to 30mm, pound and wing nets 25mm.large meshes are used for catching Mackarel,Seer and other species which move in shoals.Visibility of netting has a positive effect on guiding .The twine diameter-mesh size are 9 to 12ply.Major species cought in set nets are herring, Mullet,snapper,silver biddy. pony fish, catfish, cuttle fish,prawn,travelly,spinefoot and others.
(d) Metal Poles
Length ; 11-12 M.
Diameter; 1.5 Inch or 65mm
Considerable attention has been directed towards the development of Stake net fishery in Mannar.These nets are highly fuel efficient compared to other fishing systems and are very efficient for catching migratory fishes.The gear could be operated continiously day and night requiring only periodic tending for removal of fish and maintainance .An obvious disadvantage is that they are huge structure requiring large amount of netting materials and metal and wooden poles and labour for their intial installation.
However,this Large stake net is like a large fence in the sea, consisting of 30 to 50 pieces of 9-11 metre galvanised iron poles (very sharp), to which the enormous nets are fixed in a stretch of about 50 metres. As hundreds of these nets have been placed recently, as a whole about ten kilometre of sea is fenced in this fashion from the South Bar Beach up to Coral Reef Bar. As a result, marine resources especially, corals, and the marine organisms of the sea bed had been destroyed.And this note is to draw attention for a seriously affected development in Southern Mannar Island area, where small scale.
Fishermen and beach seiners are getting increasingly obstructed by this fishing method and drift netters are unable to operate in the area. OBM boats are unable to travel in the midnight through the areas. Drift nets and OBM boats have been damaged by the metal poles. The issue is a newly developed type of stake net or wing net which demands serious and immediate attention of the government.
As this type of nets is highly capital intensive, the fishermen involved will not be happy to see their activities restricted and large interests are at stake. Of course, the fishermen from these areas have only succeeded in the instalment and operation of these wing nets with the influence of powerful political supporters.
There is an urgent need for identifying the prohibited or illegal fishing activities and the use of dangerous or harmful substances in fishing in Southern island of Mannar. And the present study will be carried out in January 2013 until the latter part of December 2013. Such identification will focus on the major threats and impacts on the fishing industry and the socio, economic and ecological impacts through case studies, field surveys and library methods. The study targets to find out appropriate remedies to Minimize such harmful stake net fishing.
This has the following implications:
And this note is to draw attention for a seriously affected development in Southern Mannar Island area, where small scale fishermen and beach seiners are getting increasingly obstructed by this fishing method . Practically all shoals of fish coming from the north of Thalaimannar get caught in these nets, whereas the fish movement towards the shore is highly restricted.
Beach seining is an important means of livelihood for thousands of people in Vankalai in Southern Mannar. More then 100 of families depend on 6 units of beach seines such area.
Due to the current presence of the wing net, however, the beach seine production has completely collapsed as all fish is fenced off by these stake nets. There has been dramatic decline in the production of fish caught by beach seine in the same areas.(Table: 2) The range of average production was from 3.5 k.g/month to 11.6 k.g/month in unit I, and from 4.0 to 10.9 in unit II at Vankalai area.
Drift netters or Gill netters are unable to operate in the area.
OBM boats are unable to travel in the midnight through the areas.
Drift nets or Gill nets and OBM boats have been damaged by the metal poles. The fishermen using fibre glass boats find it very difficult to navigate especially in the nights avoiding the protruding poles, which will make a hole in the boats when they come into contact.
A number of boats have already been damaged this way (pictures)
As this type of nets is highly capital intensive, (More then Five to Seven -LKR.) the fishermen involved will not be happy to see their activities restricted and large interests are at stake. Of course, the
Fishermen from these areas have only succeeded in the instalment and operation of these stake nets with the influence of powerful political supporters. As a few people are gaining enormous yields, while leaving another community without fish, it is not surprising to witness a serious increase in communal clashes, which are highly undesirable.
As a result, marine resources especially, corals, (Vankalai coral reefs, and Arippu coral reef) and the marine organisms of the sea bed had been destroyed by the use of heavy metal poles. The use of these nets on shallow waters, coral reefs and rocks has been prohibited as they destroy the fishing habitats,according to fisheries act no.
According to fisheries experts using such nets in coastal and lagoon fishery in Sri Lanka damages bottom juveniles and habitats such as coral reefs.Using those nets in the bottom layers of the sea after increasing the weight used in the nets is also damaging as they disturb the fishing habitats in deep layers of the sea. Endangering species including turtles are destroyed by the use of this net.
Considering the above, it may be clear that the wing net is an unacceptable type of gear, against which measures have to be taken urgently to avoid further destructions and communal clashes.
The fisheries and Aquatic Resource department of the Fisheries Ministry as the regulatory and implementing agency of the Fisheries Act No.2 of 1996 and regulations frame under it and amendment of No.4 of 2004 has empowered the fisheries Inspectors functioning under fisheries directors in 14 districts to take action against such illegal fishing net.Regulations are in place, but are to be implemented.
It is recommended that an awareness program should be organised to enlighten the net users of the evils of the use of such nets.
Regulations should be enforced, as a joint effort by both Fisheries Department, security forces and fisheries societies!
Organizing an awareness programe among the different users of marine resources in the affected area..
Nevertheless, for the benefit of the Mannar fishing community at large, the use of this wing net should be stopped and prohibited as soon as possible. The Fisheries Department of Mannar which is the regulatory body to oversee the fisheries industry in Sri Lanka observed that illegal modes of fishing which adversely affects the industry has increased during this year.
The victims affected by the use of metal nets complained to the police about it.The police brought the issue to the Mannar majistrate court,through ADF /Mannar.Subsequent to investigations,the Majistrate court,Mannar issued orders for the restriction of the use of metal nets in such areas.
Unfortunately the court order has not been honoured.
1.Madduma Bandara,C.M.(1989).A Survey of the Coastal Zon of Srii Lanka.Coast Conservation Department,Sri Lanka.
2.Ministry of Fisheries and Aquatic Resorurce s Development.(2012).Annual Report 2011/2012.Mannar District,Ministry of Fisheries and Aquatic Resource Development.
3.Report of the Magistrate’s Court ,Mannar District.2013.May10.
4.Satchthananthan,K.and Thevathasan,A.(1970).Siraguvalai:A Passive Fishing Gear in Ceylon.Bulletine of the Fisheries Research Station.Ceylon.21(2):75-85.