Freshwater fish industry of Polpithigama in jeopardy | Daily News

Freshwater fish industry of Polpithigama in jeopardy

The freshwater fishermen of Polpithigama request the authorities to resolve the issues related to their industry. If not, the industry will be in jeopardy, the fishermen said.

President of the Fishermen’s Society of the Hakwatunaoya Reservoir in the Polpithigama Divisional Secretariat division J.A. Michael told the Daily News that the fishermen who are engaged in the freshwater fish industry under the reservoir have to lead a hand-to-mouth existence as their income has gone down drastically due to various reasons. “The Government always tries to resolve the problems faced by the farmers in our area,” Michael said. “But there is no one to resolve our problems. We are engaged in a risky job. There is a great threat from wild elephants that roam around the reservoir. Sometimes they destroy even our fishing nets,” he said.

He said freshwater fish has been in existence in their area for a long period. But due to the increase of the population and high demand, the number of fishermen too have increased. He added that due to the unique taste and the nutritional value of freshwater fish there is a commendable capacity in providing a living for a number of people in the area. Michael also said they are aware of the programmes implemented by the Government under the Vistas of Prosperity and Splendour programme to improve the freshwater fish industry and they are looking forward to enjoy their share.

He further said there is an acute shortage of fish in the reservoir as fingerlings have not been released to the reservoir for a long time. “We have to purchase fingerlings at Rs. 2 per fingerling. We find it difficult to breed fingerlings as the water capacity of the reservoir is not at all sufficient. More than 50 percent of water is obtained by farmers for cultivation purposes. Releasing fingerlings to the reservoir is a responsibility of the National Aquaculture Development Authority (NAQDA),” he said.

President of the Kurunegala District Freshwater Fish Society A.K.A. Jayathilaka Bandara said the water capacity of the reservoir has decreased due to siltation resulted from unauthorized cultivations in the feeding area. “Although we have brought this matter to the notice of the responsible authorities no action has yet been taken to address the issue. The freshwater fish industry cannot be developed without the assistance of the Government,” he added.