The Sri Lanka Lifesaving Association (SLLSA) said that 90 percent of the fishermen in the country do not have the ability to swim.
SLLSA Chief Executive Officer Asanka Nanayakkara told the Daily Mirror that most of the fishermen are confident that they can swim.
The information was revealed following surveys conducted recently around the country through the Disaster Management Center (DMC).
The swimming ability the fishermen have is not enough to save their lives in the sea.
A swimmer should have the ability to swim at least 200 meters continuously in still waters in 10 minutes. According to international criteria, a life saver should have the ability to swim 200 meters in six minutes to save a person. In rapid waters, like the sea, the fitness standard is that a swimmer should swim 400 meters in nine minutes, and a lifesaver should take at least six minutes to swim in still waters.
According to the Health Ministry's records, three people die daily in Sri Lanka due to drowning.
Nanayakkara claimed that fishermen do not wear their lifesaving jackets (Personal Flotation devices, or PFDs).
“All the fishing boats have been provided with PFDs. Most of them are not used, but they can help save lives. The life jackets provided by the DMC are of good quality. But none of the fishermen use PFDs. They assume that they do not need those jackets as they can swim in any water condition in the sea,” he said.
The fishermen should wear the PFDs when fishing in the sea, river or lakes, he said. (Chaturanga Pradeep Samarawickrama)
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