Replacement of boats, engines destroyed by tsunami is chaotic - FAO
by Elmo Leonard
@ Sunday Observer / 08Jan2005
Sri Lanka took 12 months to replace the first of its 187 multiday fishing crafts destroyed by the Asian tsunami. But, smaller boats are oversupplied due to too many players being involved. Of 4480 FRP boats destroyed, 4321 such vessels were replaced end-December and 2264 more FRPs are pledged for replacement by NGOs.
There is also a gross oversupply of traditional craft (TC) 11,158 TC destroyed; 8636 replaced and 3037 more pledged by NGOs.
Far more smaller fishing craft have been replaced, than existed before the tsunami, FAO Consultant, Leslie Joseph said.
In the Galle, Matara and Hambantota districts of the island's south, of the 868 boats delivered, only 272 (31 percent have gone to genuine beneficiaries. Of 1860 TC delivered, only 757 (40 percent) have gone to genuine beneficiaries.
Sri Lanka's replacements of boats and engines damaged and destroyed by the tsunami is chaotic, Joseph, who carried out the FAO report, just released said.
The replaced multiday craft is a 38 foot vessel built at one of the island's six boatyards which export boats.
The vessel cost $70,000, using a Dutch grant of $25,000, now, available for every multiday boat destroyed.
The balance from a pay-as-you-earn-scheme, supported by local banks.
Amsterdam's pledge apart, this whole operation of replacement is muddled, Joseph said. Bearing a fleet of 1500 multiday craft, the island's exports have not dropped significantly, the Fisheries Ministry, Director General (Development) A. Hettiarachchi said.
According to the FAO survey: 175 replacements of multiday boats are pledged by NGOs. One day boats: 29 replaced of 276 destroyed, 364 pledged. Beach seine craft 204 replaced of 818 destroyed and 354 more pledged by NGOs.
Since October last year, Cey-Nor Foundation Ltd, the state run, fishing craft and net manufacturer (funded by FAO for repairs following the tsunami), stopped repairs of boats. But, A J Fishing the main player in coastal campaign repair work, is active. According to FAO, multiday boats damaged: 676, repaired by Cey-Nor 657, by NGOs 123, total repaired - 780. One day boats damaged 83, repaired by Cey-Nor - 681 by NGOs - 223 - total 904. FRP boats damaged 3211, repaired by Cey-Nor 1404; by NGOs 2854 total 4258. TC 2435 damaged, Cey-Nor repaired 1674, and NGO's 1805, total 3479. Beach seine craft 161 damaged, repaired by Cey-Nor 40 by NGOs 94 total 134. The FAO survey on update of engine repairs is similar.
The Fisheries Ministry's count on fishing craft is a mere indication, Joseph said.
Apart from pre-tsunami, even today, less than 50 percent of the island's fishing craft is registered; the majority of TC go unregistered.
There is no reliable information on the number of fishing craft used in Tamil Tiger held areas, Joseph said.
Immediately after the tsunami, a few unrelated government departments made separate assessments of fishing craft destroyed and damaged.
As departments, non involved in fisheries were made use of, claims for fishing vessels were made by non-fishermen and those who had not owned boats.
Now, the total number of smaller fishing craft in operation far exceeds the number of similar types of craft which were in use before the tsunami and has lead to a further erosion of the island's coastal fisheries resources.
Immediately following the tsunami over 100 NGOs began supporting the fishermen, often competing with each other, and disregarding the local authorities, who issued entitlement cards. Some fishermen are on the list of more than one NGO.
Some NGOs say that as the issue of cards were delayed, they devised their own ways of identifying beneficiaries.
Mushrooming boatyards are found under coconut trees.
There are many reports by FAO, of the hulls of boats breaking up in the high sea. There is pressure for more entitlement cards to be issued, while the NGOs are adamant they will not pull back.