Myliddy fisheries harbour development begins!

A massive development project seeks to restore livelihoods for thousands of families resettling in Myliddy after nearly three decades of displacement. Land had been released in the area prior to 2017, but returning residents struggled to resettle, with no access to the fisheries harbour which was the main source of livelihood of the fishing community in Myliddy was thriving before the war. With the launching of this restoration project for the Myliddy fishing harbor, displaced fishermen in the Jaffna peninsula are preparing to return to their traditional fishing grounds in the area. Last year, after occupying it for nearly three decades, the military released the Myliddy fisheries harbour and 54 acres around it, allowing displaced fishing communities to finally return home and be assured of livelihood means.  The Myliddy fisheries harbour restoration and development project in the formerly embattled Northern Province would benefit particularly small scale fishermen in the Tellipalai and Myliddy areas.

About 15,000 fisher families who were living in the Myliddy harbour and its environs got displaced in 1990 due to the conflict and lived in several parts of the Northern Province. Livelihood problems were acute for these displaced fishing communities, who encountered grave livelihood problems with virtually no relief or rehabilitation assistance. In the intervening period, owners of large fishing vessel fleets from other parts of the island and India were engaged in illegal bottom trawling in the abandoned fishing grounds of the displaced fishing community. Poachers from across the Palk Strait were not only engaged in poaching but also in drug trafficking, turning the region into a hub for drugs. Over 1000 families had already returned to their traditional lands near the fisheries harbour and more were set to return. The returning fishing community needed better fishing gear, facilities and vessels, including multi-day boats, so that the region will once again become a fisheries economic hub, contributing to increased national fish production and improved livelihood of the local communities. The restoration and development of the Myliddy harbour will largely benefit small scale fishermen in Jaffna.

While the harbour has been returned to the civilian population, there were no infrastructure left, refer to an earlier post on Northern Breeze. The aim of the restoration project is to provide necessary infrastructures the harbour has to be dredged to create a place to keep a few hundred boats safe during the monsoon which hits this area pretty hard, net-mending centers and toilets and other facilities such as an auction hall, for the fishermen. The master plan for the fully operational Myliddy fishing harbour had been designed by the Lanka Hydraulic Institute (LHI). The development project will include the renovation of a 150 year old building complex, the construction of a fuel station, ice factory, boat and engine repair workshop, a fish processing and canning center and fishing gear shop. Most importantly, the project will also include the dredging of the breakwater basin at a cost of Rs.150 million, restoration of the quay walls, jetties and navigation lights, development of other shore facilities such as auction hall, net mending hall, community hall and market hall will also be part of the renovation and restoration process.

Thamby Ramar

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