December 10, 2010

A truly unique Sri Lankan tradition…. stilt fishing

Location: Ahangama, Sri Lanka (5° 58' 40 N, 80° 22' 28 E)
Date: 12 October 2010, 6.10pm
Camera: Canon 500D with Sigma 17-70/f2.8-4.5

One of the most iconic images of Sri Lanka is that of men fishing while perched precariously on poles in the middle of rushing waves.The fishermen sit on a cross bar called a petta tied to a vertical pole planted into the coral reef. They hold the stilt with one hand while fishing with a rod using the other. The poles are about 3-4 m long with about half a meter driven into the reef; so the fishermen is about 2 m above water at high tides. The fishes they catch are small herrings, sardines and mackerels that hang around the shallow reefs. Any fishes caught are stored in a plastic bag tied around their waist or the pole. This is stilt or pole fishing, a tradition that is uniquely Sri Lankan; but a dying tradition with dwindling practitioners. Most stilt fishermen are found on the south and eastern coast of the island. However these days near the tourist resorts along the south coast, there are more so-called stilt fishermen who will pose for a fee for tourists to snap their photos.

1 comment:

Suyun said...

Like this picture. It reminded me the stilt fishing practiced by few Bajau people in Indonesia that I once watched in a French TV program.

The Bajaus sat on the shallow part of ocean near their ocean village for hours or even a whole day to catch cuttlefishes. Only around a dozen of cuttlefishes could be caught.

When the French journalist asked one fisherman what he contemplated during those long hours of fishing. He simply said that he had to concentrate on water all the time as he could not afford leaving any cuttlefish slip away.

The picture link: