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Tsunamis Wiped Out Indian Ocean Marine Fisheries, Aquaculture

ROME, Italy, January 13, 2005 (ENS) - The tsunami waves of December 26 completely smashed the fisheries sector in many countries of the Indian Ocean, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said today from the agency's headquarters in Rome.

In Sri Lanka, more than 7,500 fishers have been killed by the giant walls of water and over 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 harbors in the country have been completely devastated, including infrastructure such as ice plants, cold rooms, workshops and slipways.

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

Jeremy Turner, FAO's chief of the Fishery Technology Service, says the agency is 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.

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Aid workers pull one of thousands of bodies from the waters of Aceh province. (Photo by Agus Muldya courtesy Jakarta Independent Media)
In the Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam Province of Indonesia, where 42,000 fishers and their families live, 70 percent of the small-scale fishing fleet has 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, the FAO has determined.

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

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 harbors 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 disaster.

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 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.

The 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.

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These fishing boats in Tamil Nadu, India were smashed by the enormous waves. (Photo courtesy TC Malhotra)
In the state of Andhra Pradesh, India, fishers along the 1,000 kilometer coastline were the worst hit by the tsunamis. Around 2,000 fishing boats and about 48,000 sets of fishing gear 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, the FAO estimates.

In Myanmar, or Burma, some 200 villages spread along the southern coast that relied on fishing have been hit the tsunami 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.

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On the devastated coast of India, fishing boats are drawn up on the beach. (Photo courtesy TC Malhotra)
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. The 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.

Turner said the damage caused by the tsunami in the fisheries and aquaculture sectors of the affected countries is worse and more complex than expected.



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