Sri Lanka, surrounded with warm and nutrient-filled waters and filled with many rivers and lakes, enjoys a wealth of fisheries opportunities. Having extensive coast-line as well as numerous reservoirs and lakes throughout the country, provide opportunities for both inland and deep-sea fishing. This fishing industry plays a key role in Sri Lanka’s social and economic life. And it consists of three main subsectors, namely coastal, offshore or deep sea and inland or aquaculture. These three sub-sectors employ around 250 000 active fishers and another 100000 in support services.
Sri Lanka’s position in the Indian Ocean means that great coastal and deep-sea fishing experiences can be obtained almost every direction of the county’s coast. However, as with all sea-based activities, Sri Lanka’s deep sea fishing is dependent on the season, with western and southern coasts accessible from November to April, in April the South-Eastern coast opens up and the east coast being more suitable from May to September.
Inland fishing in freshwater as well as in brackish waters is available at any time of the year due to the constant smoothness of the water on inland waterways and reservoirs located in Sri Lanka. With the presence of different climatic conditions in different parts of the small island, excellent fishing opportunities can be found throughout the year.
Major Sectors of Fishing Industry in Sri Lanka
Marine fisheries are of considerable social and economic importance around the entire 1770 km of Sri Lanka’s coastline. The marine area from shore to the edge of the continental shelf is referred to as the coastal sub-sector. The balance beyond the continental shelf and out to 200 nm boundary is considered the offshore and deep-sea subsector. The fishing industry in Sri Lanka is taking place in both sub-sectors. Marine fish production contributes nearly 90% of the total fish catch, of which the coastal fish catch is 60% while rest is from deep-sea fish catching.
Stilt fishing is one of the most interesting traditional fishing methods in Sri Lanka which can be seen in coastal fish catching. The beautiful sight of fishermen perched branched poles as they fish skillfully during dawn, noon and dusk; can now be commonly along the southern coast in towns such as Koggala , Kaththaluwa, and Ahangama. Some fishers around the coastal areas of the country use small boats or fishing knots for catching fishes. Fishing activities take place around the entire coast of the country, with landings made, at 12 fishery harbor centers, several large and small anchorages and as many as 700 village-level sites.
Sri Lanka has 103 perennial rivers, of which 23 river basins are larger than 500 km2. Of the total area of about 280 000 ha of inland water bodies, 160 000 ha are lakes and ponds, while the rest (120 000 ha) consists of lagoons and marshlands. Inland reservoirs and tanks usually carry water all the year round and other reservoirs and tanks are seasonal. Brackish-water resources are situated in the coastal belt in the form of estuaries, lagoons or marshes.
Although indigenous species like Labeo dissoumeari and Puntius sarana are found in inland fish catches, their commercial importance is quite low. Introduced fish species, such as tilapias (Oreochromis mossambicus and O. niloticus) dominates inland fish landings. Attempts have also been made to introduce Indian and Chinese crap species into reservoirs.
Deep-Sea Fishing Industry in Sri Lanka
Deep-Sea Fishing can be categorized as either great adventure sport or as a part of the marine fish catching sector. Travelers of fishers who would engage in this deep-sea fishing activity will have to spend a few hours at the middle sea. This opportunity is much available in Sri Lanka’s coastal area as it is surrounded by the deep blue waters of the Indian Ocean. It offers travelers with so many adventurous activities and various water sports including deep-sea fishing.
Sri Lanka is much appreciated with its multitude of sub-aquatic life. Its unspoiled sea and fishing zones hold an abundance of game fish for the keen angler. Close to the coast, you’ll find Grouper, Snapper Emperor, Bonefish; a bit further out Indian Mackerel, Spanish Mackerel, Seerfish, Kingfish, Barracuda, Baramundi, Jackfish, Trevally, Tuna and far-out Sailfish, Swordfish, Marlin, and Shark During trolling you often can see schools of dolphins accompanying the boat. This adventure activity is also quite different from normal fishing expeditions. Riding your boat further away from land means that you will be in the deep waters filled with big game fishes.
The Western and Southern Coasts are accessible for deep sea fishing from November to April, whereas the South-Eastern Coast only in April, and the Eastern Coast from May to September. You can select either a morning session or an evening session and expert fishing guides will advise you the best timing depending on the weather and the month.