Immediate measures should be taken to address the concerns of the fishing community of Arugam Bay who play a significant role in contributing towards the development of tourism in this world-renowned surfing destination, said M. H. A. Raheem, Chairman of the Arugam Bay Tourism Association (ABTA).
Since the very beginning, Arugam Bay has been known as a fishing village and the fisheries sector has grown to be regarded as one of the major income generating industries of the area. The main livelihood of the majority of the people of Arugam Bay, over 600 fishermen are currently involved in the sector, while 1,500 families directly benefit through its activities.
Fishermen also play a huge role in contributing towards tourism development, showcasing Arugam Bay's rich eco systems to visitors. In addition, Arugam Bay is also known for fresh fish and seafood dishes, which are much sought-after by tourists to the area.
However, lack of adequate facilities, such as a proper boat yard, access to drinking water and sanitary facilities and the non-availability of an information centre, have posed major threats to the fishermen operating in the area, explained Raheem. Furthermore, recent floods have also had an adverse impact on fishing activities with a number of boats disappearing.
Explaining further, he said, "the beaches of Arugam Bay are shared both by tourists and the fishermen. During the tourist peak season, fishermen are not able to carry out their activities here."
"Therefore, we request the local government authorities to take urgent steps to look into these concerns, thereby enhancing the facilities provided to the fishing community and improving their conditions. This will benefit not merely the fisheries industry, but the tourism sector and contribute towards the overall development of Arugam Bay as well," said Raheem. He added that steps should also be taken to ensure that fishing activities were conducted in a more organised and planned manner.
"If the local authorities are able to develop these activities, that will be one of the biggest gifts that can be given to the Arugam Bay fishing community," added Raheem.