Southeast Asia Tsunami Caused Havoc on Marine Fisheries, Aquaculture Infrastructure

The tsunami waves have had a devastating impact on the fisheries sector in many countries of the Indian Ocean, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) said Thursday.

In Sri Lanka, more than 7,500 fishers have been killed by the tsunami and more than 5,600 are still missing. More than 5,000 Sri Lankan fishing families have been displaced and 80 percent of coastal fishing vessels have been completely destroyed or very seriously damaged, including around 19,000 boats. Ten out of the 12 main fishing harbours in the country have been completely devastated including infrastructure such as ice plants, cold rooms, workshops and slipways.

FAO has already sent fisheries experts to Sri Lanka to advise the
government on the repair and rehabilitation of fishing harbours and
infrastructure, fishing boats and fishing gear.

In the Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam Province of Indonesia, where 42,000 fishers and their families live, 70 percent of the small-scale fishing fleet have been destroyed. In Nias Island, about 800 fishing canoes have been destroyed. Two thirds of local fisherfolk from the capital Banda Aceh were killed by the waves.

Fish farming was severely affected in northern Sumatra with about 1,000 fish cage farms having been completely destroyed.

“FAO is currently assessing the damage and will help the government and local authorities to repair and replace fishing boats and gear and start with the initial repair of water fishponds and infrastructure so that fish production can be resumed as soon as possible,” said Jeremy Turner, chief of the Fishery Technology Service.

In the affected coastal areas of Thailand, 386 fishing villages with a
population of around 120,000 people have lost about 4,500 fishing boats, or their fishing gear has been seriously damaged. Most fishing boats are owned by small-scale, traditional fishers. The total damage to marine capture fisheries alone is estimated at around $16.6 million.

Eight fishing harbours and their infrastructure have been seriously
damaged. The affected aquaculture industry has suffered a serious setback. A total of around 15,800 fishing cages have been damaged, this has caused losses of about $33 million. In some areas, seafood supplies have dropped by 90 percent since the tsunami.

FAO is preparing support measures for fisherfolk in six southern Provinces of Thailand providing essential fisheries inputs and assisting in the repair of damaged fishing vessels and damaged fishery infrastructure.

In the Maldives, where a very large part of the population depends on
fishing for their livelihood, more than one third of all inhabited islands
were severely damaged and hundreds of boats and harbours were destroyed. FAO is planning to assist the country with the repair and replacement of fishing boats, engines and fishing gear as well as with the repair and rehabilitation of fisheries infrastructure.

In the state of Andhra Pradesh in India, fishers along the 1,000 km
coastline were the worst hit by the tsunamis. Around 2,000 fishing boats and about 48,000 fishing gears were lost, about 300,000 fishers have lost their jobs. In the state of Tamil Nadu, 591 fishing villages and 30 islands of the Andaman and Nicobar islands have been badly affected by the tsunamis. India’s seafood exports may decline by around 30 percent as a result of the tsunami.

In Myanmar, some 200 villages spread along the southern coast and heavily relying on fishing have been hit by tsunamis and lost fishing vessels, fishing gear and infrastructure. Some 17 seaside fishing villages have been reported as destroyed and at least 53 people as killed by the tsunamis. FAO is preparing for a long-term participation in relief and rehabilitation measures for the affected fishing communities.

In Malaysia, the livelihoods of about 6,000 fishers have been affected by the disaster.

In Somalia, around 2,600 fishing boats have been destroyed. FAO is
assisting in damage and needs assessments and making preparations for the repair of damaged fishing vessels and for the provision of essential fishing inputs in six southern provinces of the country. FAO will also provide short- term financial aid and training in improved fishing techniques and boatbuilding to about 2,000 fishers.

In the Seychelles, coastal fish farms and the artisanal fisheries sector
suffered extensively. A great number of fishing vessels were damaged or lost. The two fish processing plants and cold storage facilities located at the fishing port in Victoria were also affected by the tsunamis. FAO is preparing assistance programmes for the repair and replacement of fishing vessels and landing facilities and for the restoration of sustainable livelihoods in the fisheries sector.

The damage caused by the recent tsunamis in the fisheries and aquaculture sectors of the affected countries is worse and more complex than expected, according to Turner.

FAO’s Fisheries Department has embarked on a concerted effort to assist the fisheries and aquaculture sectors of the tsunami effected countries through relief and rehabilitation measures and projects.