A COMPARATIVE ASSESSMENT OF DAMAGES TO FISHERIES LIVELIHOOD IN VILLAGES AFFECTED BY THE 2004 INDIAN OCEAN TSUNAMI

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A COMPARATIVE ASSESSMENT OF DAMAGES TO FISHERIES LIVELIHOOD IN VILLAGES AFFECTED BY THE 2004 INDIAN OCEAN TSUNAMI Rusyan Jill Mamiit University of Hawaii Manoa, Joint Institute for Marine and Atmospheric
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A COMPARATIVE ASSESSMENT OF DAMAGES TO FISHERIES LIVELIHOOD IN VILLAGES AFFECTED BY THE 2004 INDIAN OCEAN TSUNAMI Rusyan Jill Mamiit University of Hawaii Manoa, Joint Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research, ABSTRACT On 26 th December 2004, colossal waves known as tsunami engulfed the coastal nations around the Indian Ocean. The disaster brought physical, psychological and emotional suffering beyond measure to many communities. It resulted in immense devastation of many coastal vegetations and marine ecosystems. The fisheries in the coastal villages in Sri Lanka, in particular, were subject to severe damage caused by the tsunami. The impacts of the tsunami on the fishery sector magnified the significance of the resource as important sources of food and livelihood. A comparative assessment of the social and economic dimensions of damages to fisheries following the tsunami was conducted in the villages of and. Functioning and degraded coastal vegetation and marine ecosystems characterize the two villages, respectively. Results indicate that damages to fisheries livelihood in, area with intact fishery ecosystems, was approximately SLR 8,676,092 (US$ 86,761) per fishing household; whereas,, site with degraded coastal and marine ecosystem generated a loss to fishing livelihood of about SLR 19,952,467 (US$ 199,525) per household. The economic assessment also demonstrated that a village with intact coastal and marine resource base such as can induce an economic benefit of approximately SLR 12,718,448 (US$ 127,184) per fishing household. The economic estimates suggest that areas with degraded coastal vegetation and marine ecosystem generate lower fishing benefits as shown by SLR 1,256,474 (US$ 12,565) annual economic value of fisheries per household in. The findings provide a sound basis for the inclusion of fishery rehabilitation efforts in the post-tsunami rebuilding programs. INTRODUCTION Keywords: Sri Lanka, Coastal Livelihood, Fisheries, Tsunami The Indian Ocean tsunami of December 2004 left massive devastation across South and Southeast Asia. It caused extensive damages to life, property and livelihood. In India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Sri Lanka, the tsunami claimed over 300,000 lives and left more than two million people displaced and homeless [1]. In particular, the disaster had the greatest impact on rural coastal communities [2], many of which were in extreme economic difficulty prior to the tsunami. The affected communities depend on fishing and agriculture for their livelihoods. Due to specific socioeconomic difficulties, political instabilities, lack of arable land in certain areas and other factors, the majority of affected villagers rely heavily on fishing as their main source of income [3]. The fisheries are among the most common and important marine ecosystem in the region. They are among the highly productive and taxonomically diverse ecosystems on earth, which has great environmental, commercial, aesthetic and economic value. Similar to other natural ecosystems, fisheries in the Indian Ocean have been exposed to both anthropogenic- and naturally-induced interventions. The increased migration to coastal regions resulted in the degradation of fisheries. The inadequacy and lack of implementation of governing mechanisms to regulate the use of the coastal and marine resources exacerbated the fishery conditions. Of late, fisheries in South Asia, particularly in Sri Lanka, were subject to severe natural damage caused by the tsunami. The impacts of tsunami did not only magnify the significance of the fisheries but also the vulnerability of the communities that are dependent upon the resource. In recognition of the role of the fishery ecosystems in the economic and social lives of communities hit by the tsunami, the need to include fishery rehabilitation efforts in the tsunami reconstruction and rebuilding plans is paramount. Owing to this exigency, it is important, therefore, to: (1) assess the damages sustained by selected 1 communities dependent on the resource; (2) present an economic justification for the inclusion of the rehabilitation and restoration of the fishery sector in the current tsunami reconstruction projects in Sri Lanka; and (3) assess the economic value of fisheries to provide a sound basis on future plans of action. By estimating the damages and placing monetary value to fisheries, this study sets forth the stage to understand and determine the economic viability of a functioning fishery ecosystem i.e., assess the benefits that communities gain from sustaining a healthy fishery ecosystem. The assessment provides a socioeconomic basis for more informed decisions and efficient allocation of limited resources for fishery management. This study reports the findings of a socioeconomic survey in the coastal villages of and in the southern coastal belt of Sri Lanka. The following section reviews the current status of the fishery sector in Sri Lanka with background information on the two villages. The third section presents the survey methodologies. The subsequent sections present the results of the data analysis and its socioeconomic implications. Finally, the last section draws some conclusions and provides recommendations on post-tsunami fishery management. Fisheries in Sri Lanka: A Review Located southeast of India in the Bay of Bengal, Sri Lanka has approximately 1,700 km of continental coastline and a population of about 19 million [4]. Similar to other island nations in the region, Sri Lanka has a growing coastal population heavily dependent on the fishery sector (Table I). Based on recent estimates, the total fishery-associated population in Sri Lanka is around one million [5]. Fisheries also play a crucial role in supplying 65 percent of the animal protein consumed by Sri Lankans, and it also contributes nearly 3 percent to the country s GDP [6]. On average, each Sri Lankan consumes 17.4 kg of fish product per year [4]. Table I. Fishery Population in Sri Lanka. Population Fishing villages (marine sector) 1,337 Fishing villages (inland / brackishwater [mangrove] sector) 1,289 Fishing households (marine sector) 132,600 Fishing households (inland / brackishwater [mangrove] sector) 11,920 Active fishermen 151,800 Fishing household population 613,900 Estimated employment in the primary sector 250,000 Estimated employment in the secondary sector 100,000 Source: FAO (2006) and Amarasinghe (2005) The fisheries resources in the country consist mainly of: (1) marine resources from coastal (near-shore), offshore and deep sea fishing; (2) inland resources from inland freshwater and aquaculture and (3) brackishwater (mangrove) resources from mangrove and wetland lagoons. In 2004, fish production from all sources totaled to about 285,000 tonnes, of which 90 percent was consumed locally and 10 percent was exported [4]. The common pelagic and demersal fish species caught include mackerel (Rastrelliger spp.), anchovy (Anchova commersoni), skipjack tuna (Katsuwonus pelamis), yellow fin tuna (Thunnus albacares), mullet (Liza melinoptera) and tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus). Small-scale fishing activities comprise majority of coastal (near-shore) and brackishwater (mangrove) fisheries. Off-shore and deep sea fishing as well as aquaculture development are in its threshold stage in Sri Lanka, and its contribution to the fishery sector remains below coastal and brackishwater fisheries [5]. Accordingly, this study focuses on coastal (near-shore) and brackishwater (mangrove) fisheries. 2 Medium-sized and non-motorized traditional crafts, owned and operated by small-scale fishermen characterize the greater number of Sri Lanka s fishing fleet. Simple canoes and outriggers make up nearly 50 percent of the fleet [4]. A small fraction of fishermen use beach seine craft without motors. Most of the taxonomically important fishing districts in Sri Lanka are located in the northern and eastern region of the country. However, due to political instabilities and ethnic indifferences in the area, growth in the fishing sector has been limited. In lieu, government agencies, NGOs and private entities channel fishery development, management and conservation efforts in the southwestern part of the country. Before the tsunami, the fishing economy in the southern coastal belt of Sri Lanka is thriving. The tsunami that hit two-thirds of Sri Lanka s coastline [4], however, changed the confidence of coastal villagers on the fishing industry. The disaster affected 80 percent of active fishermen and destroyed 75 percent of the fishing fleet a. Sri Lanka s fishing villages, at present, are gradually rebounding from the impacts of the tsunami. STUDY AREA With the intention of assessing the social and economic dimension of coastal (near-shore) and brackishwater (mangrove) fisheries characterized with: (1) healthy and functioning fishery ecosystem and (2) disturbed and degraded ecosystem, eight fishing villages were assessed for suitability through a reconnaissance site survey in southern Sri Lanka. The suitability of the sites was investigated through a physical site assessment approach developed by the IUCN-The World Conservation Union, Sri Lanka. Based on comparable accessibility of the villages, political stability, fishery resource quality and data availability, the reconnaissance survey identified the villages of and as appropriate sites. The two villages exhibit the characteristics of sites with both functioning and degraded coastal (near-shore) and brackishwater (mangrove) fishery ecosystems. and villages are located in the Tangalle and Hambantota fishing districts, 200 km south of Colombo. The districts are two of the most dynamic coastal areas in Sri Lanka. It has 27 km of coastline extending from Rekawa to Ussangoda in the southernmost coast. The sites demonstrate a diversity of marine and coastal resources. is one of the villages in the larger division of Tangalle. Estuarine and deltaic coastlines characterize the village. The major resources in upon which its 59 registered households depend for livelihood includes farming and fishing. Tourism has been an important part of the village economy for the last decade. There are three major hotels in the area. The majority of the households (52 percent) in the village are engaged in fishing activities. Fishing households in the village are engaged in both brackishwater (mangrove) and coastal (near-shore) fishing. Sixty-five percent of the fishing households are brackishwater (mangrove) fishermen, whereas 39 percent are coastal (near-shore) fishing households. It is interesting to note that 32 percent of the fishing households in the village with an average monthly income of SLR 2650 (US$ 27) b practice both brackishwater (mangrove) and coastal (near-shore) fishing. Severe damage was noted in following the tsunami. Substantial damage to coastal vegetation, particularly mangroves, was observed around the village lagoon. The impact of the tidal waves was observed to have gone beyond 350 m from the shoreline. Fifty out of the 59 houses were either partially or totally destroyed by the tidal waves [7]. The village, however, was fortunate to have the lowest number of fatalities with only two casualties recorded from the tsunami. Livelihood, specifically, brackishwater (mangrove) and 3 coastal (near-shore) fisheries were largely affected by the tsunami, as most of the fishing boats and gears were destroyed. Beach areas with tourism infrastructure such as the Hotel Lagoon Paradise and the Lagoon Wadiya Beach Cabanas were reduced into rubble by the tsunami. In Hambantota district, the coastal village of is one of the largest villages with 512 registered households. Similar to other coastal villages, farming and fishing are the major sources of income in. Compared to other villages in the district, has a higher living standard with 41 percent of the families receiving an average monthly income of SLR 7,500 (US$ 75). This is due to diversity of livelihood opportunities in the area, which include cottage industries. Despite the economic development in the area, a number of coastal and marine resources remain in the village. Fishery is the most dominant followed by agricultural lands. These resources support the livelihood activities of both residents and non-residents. Thirty-five percent of the households in the village are fishing households. Relatively, has a lower percentage of households engaged in brackishwater (mangrove) fishing. However, given the size of the community, the village has more fishing households in absolute terms compared to (Table II). Table II. Number of Fishing Households in and. Types of Fishing Brackishwater (Mangrove) 20 (65%) 107 (60%) Coastal (Near-shore) 12 (39%) 139 (78%) Before the tsunami, there were 26 beach seine nets that were in operations in the village. After the disaster only one net suitable for operation remained. The rapid environmental impact assessment in the village indicated seawater has run through a distance of one km from the coast. A total of 348 out of 512 houses were damaged [8]. Road infrastructure was also impaired by the tsunami. SURVEY METHODOLOGY At the outset, customary research practices and extensive secondary literature reviews provided background information about the socioeconomic issues surrounding fisheries in and. The socioeconomic assessment of the actual impacts of the tsunami on fisheries resources and coastal livelihood necessitates the collection of primary data from household surveys. A purposive sampling approach was developed to determine the target households. This tactic, although not as statistically representative of the population as other approaches, was deemed the most practical approach for the purposes of the study. The number of samples was determined using the recommended sample size developed by Bunce and Pomeroy [9] for household interviews in coastal areas. The primary data collection was extensively carried out separately for the two study sites. Household surveys were implemented in the villages over a period of 20 days in April The surveys were conducted in both English and Sinhala c with 44 respondents (out of 59 households) in and 107 (out of 512 registered households) in. One major aspect of the survey was the assessment of the conditions and roles of brackishwater (mangrove) and coastal (near-shore) fishery, before and after the tsunami. A series of questions on resource conditions 4 were sought from the residents. In the light of better understanding the damages to fisheries after the tsunami, the villagers were asked to give anecdotal experiences on the impacts of the disaster on the resource and their livelihood. Questions on property damages and loss economic activities were solicited. Despite the many goods and services derived by the villagers from fisheries in and, the resource is under intense pressure from anthropogenic and natural interventions. It was crucial to elicit perceived problems on resource governance, management options and fishery rehabilitation efforts in the posttsunami reconstruction and rebuilding process to properly evaluate the needs, problems and concerns faced by the communities in their struggle to sustain an intact fishery resource. Relevant socioeconomic and demographic information, both in the community and household levels, were also solicited. HOUSEHOLD SURVEY A consensus among coastal communities indicates the significance of intact coastal and marine resources particularly, mangrove and fisheries, before and after the 2004 tsunami. Anecdotal evidence shows that the broad stretch of mangroves in served as protective barrier from tidal waves coming inland. As to fisheries, anecdotal accounts demonstrate that fishing areas categorized with disturbed fishery resource exhibited a lower rate of economic recovery after the tsunami. To assess the economic importance of sustaining healthy fishery resource, the villages of and in Sri Lanka, areas characterized by intact and degraded fishery ecosystems, respectively, were investigated. Personal household surveys were conducted and a total of 151 completed questionnaires were analyzed for the study. The relatively small size and compactness of the village allowed the survey completion of 75 percent of the entire village households. Forty-four out of 59 households were interviewed. Correspondingly, the large number of households in, which totals to 512, did not permit for the same degree of completion. Completing 107 questionnaires in, in any case, was a close representation of the population. Fishing Household Profile The residents in and, generally, belong to nuclear family households. The majority of the residents are middle-aged as reflected by 67 percent of the villagers in belonging to the age bracket and 61 percent of the residents in belonging to the age bracket. Apparently, there is a high proportion of males in both villages 86 percent in and 71 percent in. It should be noted that the study survey targeted head of households, who in Sri Lanka are typically males. The proximity of to the Ambalantota town and the accessibility of private and public educational institutions in the area as well as the relatively higher monthly cash income of the households explain the high proportion (71 percent) of residents with an average formal education of 8 years compared to 47 percent in. The high level of literacy in is manifested in a high degree of participation and membership of 62 percent of the households in coastal-based organizations. Resource Condition The survey aims to establish the level of awareness of coastal communities on the different functions of the brackishwater (mangrove) and coastal (near-shore) fishery ecosystems. The residents in and have a good understanding of the fishery resources in the area as shown by almost 100 percent familiarity of the residents to mangroves and fish species in both sites. Before the tsunami, 82 percent of the residents in agree that coastal and marine resources in the area were intact and in healthy conditions. Remarkably, 79 percent of the villagers in have the same opinion. 5 There is a high level of awareness on the different issues surrounding the brackishwater (mangrove) and coastal (near-shore) fishery ecosystems in the study sites. In, it is interesting to note that prior to the tsunami disaster, the residents observed that coastal fisheries have been biologically overexploited. The local fishermen in noted that there is a lower diversity in fish catch in 2004 compared to previous years. The fishermen expressed concern that the current fishing practices and the absence of craft and gear monitoring system results in fishing operation above the maximum sustainable yield. Findings from recent studies in the southern coastal belt of Sri Lanka corroborate the concern of the residents [10, 11]. The ratio of fishery resource to the population is lower in. The fishery to population ratio, partly, explains why resources in are more degraded. Despite the high recognition of the importance of brackishwater (mangrove) and coastal (near-shore) fishery ecosystems, residents remained unresponsive to the incessant overfishing practices in the area. Damage Assessment Overall, the damage in and is estimated to be around SLR 155 million (US$ 1.5 million). Physical infrastructure such as houses, schools, roads and causeways, as well as sources of livelihood such as fishing, agriculture and tourism were severely damaged. Seventy-nine percent of the residents in and had damaged boats and fishing gears. Damaged fishing grounds were noted by 26 percent of the villagers. The proportion of damages sustained by fishing households in both villages is illustrated in Figure 1. It can be noted that in all categories, the village of registered greater percentage damages compared to. This confirms the initial claims and immediate observations after the tsunami that areas with more intact natu
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