Mannaar fishers confront off-season right after Pandemic curfew ravaging their livelihood: Alam

[TamilNet, Sunday, 10 May 2020, 21:24 GMT]
Most of the fisher families in Mannaar live below the poverty line. The fishers have been severely affected due to curfew and other measures imposed to control the spread of COVID-19. The district, as well as many other districts in the island, have been under curfew since 20 March 2020. Although there has been some assistance, such as the advance payments for Samurdhi beneficiaries, no other humanitarian aid has been forthcoming, says Noor Alam Mohammed, the deputy head of Mannaar Fisheries Federation. The only exception has been the activity of some NGOs assisting the most vulnerable, he said. Meanwhile, the off-season has also arrived adding to their plight, Mr Alam said.

Although Mannaar is a fishing hub, there has been less focus on developing fisheries-related industrial infrastructure locally.

Seafood related fishing, such as blue swimming crab fisheries that have become popular in recent years, have also been affected due to lack of transport and export facilities during the pandemic.

The fisheries sector is a primary livelihood source for the people of Mannaar. Around forty per cent of the people are dependent on fishing, both coastal and offshore.

The district has a marine coastline stretching 163 km from Theavan-piddi in the north of the mainland to Mu'l'lik-ku'lam in the south, covering the coast and the shallow lagoon of the Mannaar island.

The island of Mannar is situated facing the Gulf of Mannar to the south and the Palk Bay to its north with a rich fishing ecosystem.

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