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Fish Industry in Sri Lanka - Part IV

Bojoon.com teams up with Browns Beach Hotel, Negombo to explore the future of our fish industry.

Once, Catholics populated Negombo. Today it is an interesting weave of many ethnicities following different religious sectors. Still for all, the church still plays a huge role in the lives of the fishermen notes Chef Jagath, the executive Chef of Browns Beach. Kuda llelama that deals with the lagoon catch is managed by the Church. Church provides the forum and facilities to the fishermen to sell his catch and in turn the church is funded by the Kuda llelama.

Fish seller in Negombo Fish Market

The Maha llelama is an independent body managed the South Fishermen's Cooperative Society Limited. They are responsible for the day-to-day management, providing of the basic facilities and so on

It is not only the fishermen operating in the lagoon waters that are affiliated with the Church, says Chef Jagath. Even the big players who own deep sea trawlers have a strong connection with the church. So much so that even though the Maha llelama is not operated by the Church, the Church has the influence to stop its operation every Sunday so everyone on land can attend Church. On July 20 the Church performs a special ceremong where every trawler and boat attends. No matter how far a distance a trawler may travel, it ensures that by the July 20 it has docked in Negombo for this ceremony continues Chef Jagath.

On the morning of the ceremony all the boats and trawlers are colourfully decorated and they make their way in a procession to the famous Church on the Duuwa Island.

Here the Church invokes blessings on the fishermen, their boats and the sea for protection. According to chef this is the most important ceremony to the fishermen - no matter in what magnitude they operates in the seas.

Other than this strong influence of the Church, the maha llelama is an independent body managed the South Fishermen's Cooperative Society Limited. They are responsible for the day-to-day management, providing of the basic facilities and so on. It is here that all the players of the field from the boat owner to fisherman, to the helper to the auctioneer, to the buyer congregate to find the best bargains. It used to be the custom to hand over the responsibility of the produce of the boat to an auctioneer. However, now due to increasing hoodwinking by the auctioneer the boat owner himself now gets involved in the auctioning process.

This is not the only change that the fish industry has witnessed notes Chef Jagath. On a lighter note there is a dramatic change in the fishmonger's character.

The famous open fish market, valla where fish is sold on retail for the ordinary domestic market was operated by women in tight, miniscule jackets dangling a huge cigar from their mouths.

Now such customs are no longer prevailing and the women are more decently clad, though they are still made of sterner stuff. On a more serious note, the authority of the Society has changed since privatisation. Chef Jagath feels that more than the benefits of privatisation, the fish industry has suffered by the ills of privatisation.

Join Daily News as bojoon.com explores the fish industry in Sri Lanka with Browns Beach Hotel, Negombo. Share your own opinion by simply dropping an email to [email protected]. For more information of who we are, do visit www.bojoon.com.



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