Indigenous practices of aquatic resource management in the dry zone of Sri Lanka

TitleIndigenous practices of aquatic resource management in the dry zone of Sri Lanka
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication1993
AuthorsUlluwishewa, R
EditorSlikkerveer, LJ
Book TitleHuman evolution in its ecological context: Proceedings of the Pithecanthropus Centennial 1893-1993 Congress, under the auspices of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences
Date Published6/26-7/1/1993
PublisherPithecanthropus Centennial Foundation, Leiden University
CityLeiden, The Netherlands
ISBN90-802652-1-7; 978-90-802652-1-9
Keywordsaquaculture; aquatic resources; human ecology

Aquatic resources, mainly fish and aquatic plants, play an important role as a source of food in the traditional villages in the Dry Zone of Sri Lanka. Therefore, the villagers have traditionally developed various practices which lead to sustainable utilization of aquatic resources.

This study is an attempt to explore such practices pertaining to fishery. In the Dry Zone where scarcity of water is the major constraint to all human activities, village settlements are located in close proximity to the irrigation tanks. In every village, aquatic resources are found in association with the village-irrigation tank, its distributory canal system and the buffalo wallow, the pool in which the water drained from the paddy tract is accumulated.

Indigenous practices which contribute to the sustainable utilization of fishery resources are threefold:

  1. institutional,
  2. technological and
  3. ecological.

While various cultural limitations on fishing rights, rules and regulations pertaining to fishery and powers of the village leadership prevent the over-exploitation of fishery resources, the implements and techniques used for fishing, including trapping and poisoning, were traditionally designed in such a way that they would not cause over-fishing. The ecological set-up maintained by the villagers around the water bodies was also conducive to the sustainability of the fishery. However, all these indigenous practices are now increasingly disappearing in the face of modernization. (author)


Paper presented at Pithecanthropus Centennial "Human Evolution in its Ecological Context", June 26-July 1, 1993, Leiden, The Netherlands

Conference Name

Pithecanthropus Centennial 1893-1993

Number of pages

10 pp.