Nets of life and sometimes death

Fisher folk in the Kandakuliya area in Puttalam engage in the traditional form of fishing known as "madel fishing", where they toss massive nets into mid sea about 30 men working on one net.

This from of fishing takes place during only six months of the year when there are no monsoons. During this time of the year more than 100 temporary abodes are set up between Puttlam and Kalpitiya, by wandering fishermen.

The task of pulling the nets back to shore is a difficult exercise with the long ropes attached to the nets being used to pull them. It takes at least five hours to complete the exercise. Previously, fishermen were allowed to use tractors to assist them with the task near the shore but this has been stopped in recent days by authorities saying they are harmful to the environment.

However, the decision to stop the use of the tractors cost the life of a fisherman Pingamage Upali recently when he drowned while engaged in drowning in a net. Suranga, a net owner said the beach has eroded a great deal since the tsunami and it is dangerous for them to venture too deep into the sea to draw the nets and the use of tractors could help prevent such tragedies.

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