Post-tsunami boat building not up to par: FAO

ROME, Mar. 28 (AFP) – Thousands of replacement fishing vessels constructed since the Asian tsunami of December 26, 2004 are unsafe and flat-out dangerous, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization warned Tuesday. Tsunami-affected countries must “redouble their efforts to ensure that fishing boats built to replace those destroyed during the 2004 disaster meet minimum safety standards,” the FAO said in a statement.

More than 26,000 fishing boats were lost in Indonesia and Sri Lanka alone, FAO field reports indicate, and many of the vessels hastily constructed so that fishermen could resume their livelihoods are not up to par.

While no firm statistics are available, the FAO estimates, for example, that nearly 19 percent of vessels built in Sri Lanka since the tsunami — some 2,500 boats — are not seaworthy.

“Following the disaster, new boatyards popped up like mushrooms, but not all of these builders were qualified — suddenly you had furniture makers building boats,” said Jeremy Turner of the FAO’s fisheries department.

“Fishing is already the world’s most hazardous occupation, and working at sea in a sub-standard boat is doubly dangerous,” he said.

Several interrelated problems have impeded th