Co–management of the fishery of Senanayake Samudra, a large perennial reservoir in Sri Lanka


W.M.J. Rohitha Fernando,  Jayantha Chandrasoma, K.B. Chandrani Pushpalatha ,  Mahinda Kulathilaka


There are about 170,000 ha of perennial reservoirs in Sri Lanka and the inland fisheries of these reservoirs are well documented. The fisheries production in these reservoirs in 2013 was 55,000 tonnes, accounting for about 11.0% of the total fish production in the country. More than 80% of the inland fish production comes from medium and major perennial reservoirs (>250 ha.). Procedure existed for reservoir fisheries management was through a centralized management authority and fisher communities were not involved in decision making for management of fisheries.

In 2004, Ministry of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources introduced a strategy to get stakeholders involved for sustainable management of reservoir fisheries. This paper evaluates the effectiveness of the strategy introduced for the fisheries management in Senanayake Samudra (7,793 ha at FSL), the largest perennial reservoir in Sri Lanka.

Introduced strategy for management of the fishery had all ingredients of a co–management system. Stakeholders were fisheries authorities from the central government, fishers, wildlife authorities and the police. Tasks required for the sustainable management of fisheries were identified through active participation of stakeholders, which in turn were allocated to relevant parties. All stakeholders were consulted in the decision making process aimed at sustainable development. Relevant strategies were formulated in consensus with all stakeholders.

Introduction of co-management to the fishery has resulted in significant decrease in the use of illegal fishing gear as well as unauthorized fishing. Further, direct involvement of members of community-based organization (CBO) resulted in the availability of reliable data on catch and effort. Introduction of management measures facilitated a significant increase in fish production. The process of collective decision making and responsibilities of stakeholders has reduced conflicts and contributed to long term sustainability. Fisher CBO has already observed benefits in the form of increased income due to enhanced fish catches.

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