Writer: Risidra Mendis; Photographer: Chanaka Nalin
I am 53 years old and live with my wife and daughter in the Kapungoda Village. My father was a fisherman but passed away some years ago. My son is a Father of a church and lives in Japan with his wife. I was born in this village and we are a generation of fishermen. I have been engaged in fishing for the last 15 to 20 years. But recently, the fish in the sea have reduced drastically.
I have no proper income these days because there is a vast reduction in the fish resources in the sea. When the fish resources were good, I caught Sudaya (White Sardinella) and Salaya (Goldstrip Sardinella). On a good day, my income was 5000 rupees (USD 27.55 dollars), and on other days, I earned nothing. Fishermen now earn 100 rupees (USD 0.55 dollars) per day for pulling nets. They earned 270 to 1000 rupees (USD 1.49 to 5.51 dollars) earlier. This is the job of a fisherman now. This is not my fault. But I’m suffering for something that has been caused by the government of this country. The decision, by the Sri Lankan government, to go ahead with the Port City Project has affected the livelihoods of all fishermen in this village.
The government approved this project without getting the side of the fishermen. I have been fishing in this sea for many long years. I know this sea and all about the fishing resources that this sea has to offer. But the Sri Lankan Government thinks they know better. They went ahead with this project without considering the problems that fishermen, like me, will have to face in the future. Why couldn’t the government ask us for our side of the problem? We could have given them answers and solutions about this project.
The Chinese government cannot be blamed for the Port City Project. The Sri Lankan government can still solve the issues faced by the fishermen in Kapungoda. It is not too late, but they are not interested.
Sand was dug from areas where there was a rich source of fish. Port City officials chose a fish breeding area to dig for sand. Fish were breeding in this area and there were fish eggs buried in the sand. We cannot see fish eggs of the Salaya and Sudaya because they are very small. Fish lay eggs in the mud. When the mud is vacuumed, the fish eggs get destroyed. But when all this sand was dug to be taken away for the Port City Project, they dug right up to the mud where the fish lay their eggs. When the sand and mud was taken away, all these fish eggs were taken away with the sand and soil and got destroyed. How can the fish breed when their breeding habitats are destroyed by people who have no concern for the poor fishermen of this village?
 1 LKR = 0.00550985 USD, Feb 14, 2020