Posted on November 13th, 2017


Dr Sarath Obeysekera

Budget 2017 has given a meagre amount of rupees to build boats of 55 feet or more length ,for which government intends to cover 50 % of the cost and to install ice making plants in multiday fishing boats

 I raised this matter at the forum organized by Ernest and Young ,on how does the government intend to implement such scheme.

Deputy Secretary to treasury promised to have weekly follow up meetings and ensure implementation of budget proposals.

Government or Ministry of Fisheries has no clue how to implement such a plan.

After a thorough investigation on how Maldives developed their fishing Industry which was far behind ours .I decided to educate our politicians and technocrats on how to proceed with such plan

As a boat /ship builder in Sri Lanka .we investigated how such a small country like Maldives has gone very far in developing fishing industry

This was 1977 when we opened our free market economy ……..

1977 Maldives drew a development loan from Kuwait Fund, just before president Nasir step down.

The Development project had 280 fishing boats of 45 feet with a 45 Hp, Yanmar Diesel, with all the navigational and lifesaving equipment..

Under the project a Boat Yard was developed and prior to that a young man was sent to Australia educated him in Naval Architecture.

A second generation fishing boat from the old Maldivian fishing dhoani ( traditional long wooden fishing boats in Maldives)  was developed and produced the boats. Up to then the fishing boats were of Maldives were owned by  Mudalalis” All the small time fishermen were working  for  Mudalalis”  and just earn daily bread living in huts. Government indiscriminately selected fishermen capable of handling and operating fishing boats. Boats were awarded to fishermen on hire purchase basis for a small price of about 8000/= dollars per boat. And gave an incentive of 10,000.00  $ for them to buy fishing gear and fuel and lube oil etc to begin the work.

In the meantime 3 mother vessels of 900 Gross Tonnage  were built in Korea, and 10 fish collecting boats with Cooling Faciities  were built locally to collect fish from the fishing boats and to deliver to the mother vessels for freezing and storing. Three  Salt water flake ice plants were built in different location.

1978 president Gayyoom’s took over and his government further developed by buying more second hand 1000 GT  mother vessels from Japan and a further 9 used collector vessels from Japan. Built further 50 numbers  3rd generation fishing vessels of 55 feet and gave to the fishermen who took interest to purchase the boats on hire purchase. After that Felivaru ( Fist Male Fish canning)   factory that was built during President Nasir time was upgraded and developed, 4 more collectors vessels built in Colombo Dockyard .

Today you see the difference Maldives fishing industry. Those fishermen who got the 45 and 55 feet boats has 80,90,100, up to 120 feet fishing vessel with fully air conditioned accommodation, with western style toilets fitted in them.

Those Maldivian fishermen sent their children to overseas universities for higher education.

Now Maldives has large cold storages and deep freezing facilities built onshore. With deep drafted wharfs in fish collecting and processing centers.

Maldivian  fishermen earns average 1500 dollars a month. Fishing boat master over 2000 dollars per month

Why can’t our Sri Lankan fishermen cannot earn same.

Sri Lanka is bigger and has better opportunities to develop this industry .

Ministers in the government talks about blue economy, but there no proper advisers to the government

We need a new budget to develop blue economy and dedicated government is a must

Dr Sarath Obeysekera

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