Sales collapsed after a viral outbreak at a Colombo fish market. Activists urge the authorities to counter public disinformation. Fishing industry workers are unable to pay debts. Advocates want the government to provide refrigerated sites and buy unsold stock.
Colombo (Asia News) – Sri Lankan fisherman have started a campaign to inform the public that COVID-19 is not transmitted from fish to humans.
Fishing industry advocacy groups also urge the government to take steps to protect the fishing industry from the effects of the pandemic.
After a COVID-19 outbreak was reported in Colombo’s Peliyagoda Fish Market, fish sales collapsed as a result of fears that fish could spread the pulmonary virus.
In a statement released yesterday, advocacy groups called on the authorities to support fishermen and launch an information campaign on the real dangers posed by the coronavirus.
They stress that the government action must be immediate to prevent hunger and starvation among workers in the fishing industry and their families.
According to Herman Kumara, national coordinator of the National Fisheries Solidarity Organization, and special guest at the World Fishermen's Forum, misinformation about the spread of COVID-19 has caused enormous damage to fishermen.
He wants the government to remedy this situation. "Small fishermen are unable to sell what they catch and also have difficulty in carrying out their business due to the curfew,” he told AsiaNews.
Indeed, fishermen “are facing a massive crisis,” said Jude Vianny, a multi-day trawler fisherman from Kudamaduwella, Chilaw. Fishermen “are unable to repay the loans they contracted to go fishing.” For this reason, “The government should intervene in this matter as soon as possible.”
Vianny explains that a fishing trip of several days can cost at least 1.1 million rupees (almost US$ 6,000). He complains that the authorities are not buying the unsold stock, nor providing refrigeration sites to store it.
Echoing his demands, advocacy groups urge the government to help out in this time of crisis by buying the fish at a fair price.