“Maalu Waadi” are fishing villages that are dynamic during the ideal fishing season on each coastline of Sri Lanka. Fishermen from across the country travel to these villages and set up temporary homes. Some travel with families while some are alone. Early mornings on the south coast of Sri Lanka are the ideal times to see fishermen landing their catch.
A ‘Mudalali’ is what these fishermen refer to as their boss. A group of fishermen have a main Mudalali with whom they work for. Every day’s catch is loaded into his truck which is full of ice boxes to store the fish. Some of these trucks head to the fish market while some head straight to the airport for exporting.
Because fisherfolk are from different parts of the country, they share different beliefs, cultures, and ways of doing things. Some do not cook their own catch and some do not eat their own catch.
Those who are fishing for a living are always on the move, from coast to coast, depending on the changes in currents and wind. With experience, they can determine changes in tide and ways of the sea. When they want to move locations, they hire a truck to transport their boats (made of coconut leaves) and all other furniture and equipment.
When the sun becomes harsher, fishermen return to their homes to mend nets, rest, and spend time with families. Because of the dangers that they face every day on their venture to sea, the men of the families are regarded with great respect.
For tourists interested in learning more about a fishermen’s tale, guided tours can be organized. The traditional industry of fishing still supports many families in Sri Lanka.
Some facts about the fishing industry in Sri Lanka:
- Sri Lanka has 52 government approved fishing and processing facilities.
- The fisheries sector generates about 2.4 million direct or indirect jobs.
- Fish is the primary source of protein for 2.5 million people residing in coastal areas.
- Fish provides 50% of the animal protein requirement in Sri Lanka.
- As of 2016, the fishing industry accounts for 1.6% of GNP.