You will be taken to Mirissa fishing village where you will be able to witness stilt fishing. In chest-deep water on the beach, just a few meters off-shore, are the stilt fishermen perched on a cross bar fixed on a single pole planted into the sea-bed.
If you are brave enough, you will be able to join with them for fishing and get a real experience of the work they do. You will be able to see them fishing and learn how they do it by speaking to one of the fishermen.
The practice started during World War II when food shortages and overcrowded fishing spots prompted some clever men to try fishing on the water. At first they used the wreckage of capsized ships and downed aircraft, then began erecting their stilts in coral reefs.
Two generations of fishermen have eked out this physically demanding existence at dawn and dusk along a 30-kilometer stretch of southern shore between the towns of Unawatuna and Weligama.
“It’s more or less impossible if you don’t know what you’re doing,” Müller says.
The meagre returns these fishermen pull from the sea are dwindling and may well disappear entirely. The tsunami that devastated much of the Indian Ocean coastline forever altered the Sri Lankan shoreline and reduced access to fish using this method.
Fishing stops entirely during the annual monsoons, so nowadays it often makes financial sense for fisherman to rent their stilts to people who pose as fishermen for tourists.
“When we were sent, no one really knew if there are still fishermen or not, or if there were only these tourist fisherman, not even the Sri Lankan tourism board were able to tell us where we could find these people,” he says.
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