The distribution of fishing gear is considered a top priority to get fishermen with sea-worthy boats back to earning a livelihood as soon as possible. The first shipment was distributed to the Sirombu sub-district June 24, on the west side of Nias Island, a small fishing community which lies 56 kilometers west of Gungung Sitoli, the capital on Nias Island.
In Sirombu a total of 84 fishing gear packages were given out to local fishermen at an official ceremony, which more than a 150 people participated in.
After the handover, which was supervised by Uchida Kisako, the Representative for Japan LIFE in Indonesia , the fishermen went down to the beach to test their new fishing equipment.
"The distribution went very well and I think there was an overall satisfaction with the content of the fishing kits. With the new fishing equipment they can finally start rebuilding their livelihoods," said Kisako.
A Letter of Agreement between FAO and Japan LIFE for distributing 519 fishing kits to beneficiaries in Sumatra and on Nias Island was signed in June.
Japan LIFE handed out some 336 fishing gear kits to operators of fishing canoes across Nias and the adjacent archipelago of Pulau Hinako and Pulau Tello area, and an additional 183 fishing gear packages to fishermen in North Sumatra .
The FAO fishing gear packages contain more than 25 different items (including hooks, hand-lines and multi-filament fishing nets of various sizes) amounting to a total value of US$400,000 .
"Until we received the aid from the distribution today, we were basically living off donations from NGO's. Now we can finally return to fishing again and start improving our living conditions," said Hassan Sr, head of Sirombu village.
It is estimated that on Nias Island, two thirds of the fishing boats and fishing equipment like nets and other gear were lost or damaged as a result of the Dec. 26 tsunami and the subsequent earthquake on 28 March.
"We hope that more aid related to the fishing, such as nails and boats, will arrive soon," said Mr. Hassan Sr.