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Beach-seining fishery in Sri Lanka

Photo credit: Mahanamanam Geeganga Gamage Gunasena (Sri Lanka) Description: Mahanamanam Geeganga Gamage Gunasen and Abdel Rahman El Gamal (Founder of the website)

The inserted picture shows the beach seine fishing which is a kind of traditional fishing practice used in coastal fishery. The net is long about 500m which can cover about 2 ha of the Sea. In fact, according to a case study in Sri Lanka, a beach seine has a combined length of wings and seine body of up to 600 meters. The codend mesh size of beach seine nets would determine the species and size of the catch. For example, a 6-mm mesh targets sardines while Indian mackerels are targeted by 23-30-mm mesh size.

Even though, the basic design of the gear remained the same, the seins are now made of synthetic rather than natural fibers. The net is laid using a boat while the fishermen pull the two ends of the seine from the beach; the fish catch is gathered into an appendix-like structure located in the center of the seins. This method is somehow labor intensive as about 10-15 people are needed to each end of the net for pulling.

The beach seine fishing is confined to coastal waters of up to 3-kilometer offshore. Added to that, the fishing operations are usually practiced when the sea is not rough; before and after the southwest monsoon season.

In order to keep beach seine fishing undisrupted, an allocated area along the costal line known as “Madel paduwa” is allocated for each beach seine bearing in mind that the ownership of such allocated areas goes from a generation to another. According to FAO, the contribution percentage of beach seining to total marine catch in Sri Lanka amounted 21.5% in 2004 with 54,410 tons. This fishing practice contributes to food security in Sri Lanka as large part of the catch is consumed by seine operators and households.

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