Building Resilience: Fisheries Cooperatives in Southern Sri Lanka

  • Oscar AmarasingheEmail author
  • Maarten Bavinck


Among the many models proposed to address vulnerability and poverty in fisheries, this chapter takes a social capital approach. It focuses particularly on the role of cooperatives in providing small-scale fishers with linking social capital. The latter allows for the transfer of resources from other societal levels, such as government. The chapter is based on a study carried out in two landing centers in the Hambantota District of southern Sri Lanka. Fishers in this region suffer major problems as a result of weakly developed credit, product and insurance markets, increasing costs of fishing equipment, and deficient educational and training services. Cooperatives have played a positive role in all these fields, improving the resilience of small-scale fishing households significantly. Two qualifications are, however, in order. The first is that not all fishing cooperatives in Sri Lanka function effectively. The research sample, which contrasted a well-functioning with a weakly functioning cooperative, demonstrates the range of results available. Second, cooperatives have been more oriented toward promoting welfare than toward resource conservation, and have contributed to a potentially harmful increase of fishing effort. In order to remain successful over the long term, cooperative leaders will need to start paying attention to resource governance.


Social Capital Vicious Circle Bonding Social Capital Idiosyncratic Shock Fishing Village 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



I wish to acknowledge assistance rendered, during field studies, by Mr. Sumith and Miss Malika of Bata Atha South; and Mr. Jayatilleke and Miss Nashira of Rekawa, all of whom not only helped me to conduct field studies, but also provided me with valuable information on fisheries in the study areas. My thanks are also due to services rendered by Miss Inoka as the data entry operator, and office assistance extended by Mr. A. Somasiri, Mr. Munasinghe, and Mr. Chandana of the Department of Agricultural Economics of the University of Ruhuna. I greatly acknowledge valuable comments made by Professor Svein Jentoft of MaReMa – Centre of Marine Resource Management, University of Tromsø, Norway, from the first draft, until the final product. Thanks are also extended to the Norwegian Research Council for funding the PovFish project.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Agricultural Economics, Faculty of AgricultureUniversity of RuhunaKamburupitiyaSri Lanka
  2. 2.Department of Human Geography, Planning, and International Development StudiesUniversity of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands

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