© 2023 Dr Margaret Sheppard

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The sea fishermen  are based from their local beaches and are  often formed into local Fishermen’s Associations. These local groups tend to be very protective of their  fishing grounds . Young men and boys usually  learn from their fathers or relatives. Newcomers can join but start by crewing for other established fishermen. There is much to learn - the local fishing grounds, currents and weather conditions (often seasonal), local navigation points etc.

A Tank Boat owner

Fishermen  who have just returned from night fishing

Jaffna Peninsula - Seine fishermen clearing their nets of the catch.The boat takes one end of the very long weighted net that hangs vertically to the sea bottom, out to sea. Then after some hours the group of men wade out to either end of the net and haul in both ends of the net to shore, trapping the fish within an ever tighter area until they can land them.

This method of fishing can only be deployed in shallow calm fishing grounds close to shore.

Fisherman setting off, Pedro’s Point  on the Jaffna Peninsula

Fisherman returning with his catch along Dikwella Beach after night fishing

The return of the fishermen - clearing the nets of the catch and selling to the traders

Lobster fishermen, Godawaya. The orus are very narrow and there is little room for the crew. As they catch the lobsters, they surface and hand them to the boatman to store in the bottom of the oru.

Once landed the lobsters are carefully disentangled from the fishing nets. They are then buried in the sand to keep them cool whist the fishermen await the traders.

Fisherman, displaying catch of pipe fish to potential customers. These are usually caught with a fishing line from shore or boat.

Carefully stowing nets and checking for holes after a fishing trip.

Nets are stored above the high tide line on the beach next to the boats or in, fishing huts or they may be taken home.

Finally, when the boats are dragged back above the hide tide line, the catch is sold and distributed, the nets are safely stored, fishermen return to their homes  until the next night’s fishing

However nets need to be repaired and preparations made for the next trip

These fishermen are preparing their nets and floats for catching “big” fish, further out to sea. They will set the nets with their weights and floats and then return a few hours later to “reel in the catch”. They mark their floats with their sign to indicate their ownership and prevent encroachment and disputes with other fishermen.