16 May 2017

Dying tradition of Sri lankan Stick Fishermen

Sri Lanka

At this point of your life, I’m sure you have already seen on WEB some amazing photos of the Sri Lankan stick fishermen. They are in fact one of the most emblematic symbol of Sri Lanka. This way of fishing was traditional until the 2004 along the west coast of the country. After that something has changed. And you need to know the true before you travel Sri Lanka.

The section of the coast between Unawatuna and Weligama was the place to witness the stick fishermen at work. This consist of a single pole and crossbar planted out in the sea close to the seashore, on which fishermen be seated balanced hours and hours in order to fish their daily needs. (most likely to happen at sunset).

This beautiful scenery is now dying not just only because of the tsunami which has in part damaged the marine ecosystems and devastated the coastline of Sri Lanka but also because of the increasing number of tourists:

Seems like that the Sri Lankan government has reduced this method after tsunami and most of the "original" stick fishermen have moved to inland after losing everything.

So what's happening now is that the few original ones who were used to hand down this craft from father to son, who still live in the coastal area don't really need to fish because they earn more posing as fishermen for tourists.

They mainly wait in their huts until the tourist come and pay them in order to get a perfect shot for his camera. Because of this fact is now increasing the number of posers who plant their stick waiting for the tourists to come.

They ask from 100 to 500 Rupies for each camera. In case you find them already posing for someone and try to steal a snapshot from far, they come running after you until you pay. 

Remains now to be seen if this continues at least as a tourist attraction or not. I have to say that it is a great way to experience the old fishing method but knowing that it is done only as a tourist attraction is important. It is very picturesque regardless.

I had to pay for this unforgettable scenery and I wonder myself if Steve McCurry also had paid in the earlier 1995 to get his famous shot done.

Join the conversation!

  1. wow - this is an amazing photo - seems like it's a hard way to fish

  2. Such a shame to hear of dying traditions - this looks like it was such a difficult skill that had to be passed on. Mother Nature sometimes has a lot to answer for.

  3. Very interesting, I did not know what they were doing until I read your article. Great photo!

  4. Its ashame, but I guess dying traditions and putting on a show for tourist is very common these days

  5. Every time I see these stick fishermen I always get excited. It's amazing how they do it. Such a pity that the culture is dying.

  6. This practice is so rare now


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