Materials for nine madellas

The materials to make 7 madella for Medaketiya and 2 madella for Kahandamodera have been provided to fishing associations in each village and now 7 are complete and in use. Nine large boats have also been delivered, one for each madella. Madella are giant fishing nets which are laid out on the sea bed and then pulled in by 20 men in the morning with their catch. Each madella and boat supports 30 families and costs between £2000 and £3200. The size of the net depends on the shape of the sea bed in each bay.

The madella have been very successful. One madal owner has made enough money in a few months to rebuild his house and another madal crew sold their catch one day in February for over Rs 300,000 ( over £1500) in Medaketiya.

In Kahandamodera, one fisherman earned Rs 45,500 and the other Rs 56,000 over a three month period. The madal season here is between November and March between the monsoon. They usually go out between 6am and 9am but if the fish are good they take their turn sometimes three times a day.

A madal beach

Each madal fishes from a specific beach and the beach is frenetic when the madal go out. Each Madal team is allocated a time slot and while they prepare to go out to sea, another madal is pulled in with its catch and a third net is dried, rolled up and stacked ready for use the next day.

Each memeber of the six man team has a job. One guides the boat and the release of the net; two row the boat; two lay the nets and one stays on shore to organise the men who will help to pull the net in. The net is pulled in from both ends with the fish trapped in the middle part of the net. On the day we watched, they caught a large turtle in the nets who was immediately released and helped back to the water.

Once the net is ashore, the buyers come to the beach. About a third of the catch is put to one side for those who helped pull the net in. The remainder of the fish is sold to a trader – the price is vigorously negogiated! The proceeds are spilt between the owner of the net and the main crew. The fish are them packed on ice and carried away on bicycles and in vans.

Fishing Boats and Nets

Kalametiya, Hambantota District

Thirty nine catamarans and sets of nets have been distributed in Kalametiya. Each boat costs about £200 and will be used by two fishermen together. They use the boats for 5-6 months each year and catch lobsters during the other months. The catches range from Rs 200 to Rs 1500 per catch. They take the boats out between 5pm and 9pm but if there are a lot of fish they will stay our all night. The price of fish varies and falls when there are more fish.

Kahandamodera, Hambantota District

Thirty one catamarans and sets of nets are now in use in Kahandamodera. Wimalasiri, one of the fishermen told us that he earns Rs 10,000-15000 per month during the season. He goes out with one of his relatives and they share the income. During the off season, they repair their nets or get work as casual labourers and sometimes go out on trawlers to suppplement their income.

Peellagoda, Galle District

Nineteen fishing boats, nets, outriggers and lamps have been given to the members of the Peellagoda Harbour Fishing Association in Unawatuna. They fish during the season and repair their boats and nets during the monsoon season.