Ceylon, 1953 - The sea covers more than half the earth's surface yet provides only about 1% of man's food - to a great extent because the majority of the world's fishermen carry on their work with only wind and muscle for power. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) believes that, even in very poor fishing communities, engines can be put into boats and more than pay for themselves in extra catches. In Ceylon there are about 60,000 people whose main occupation is fishing yet they only take about 30,000 tons of fish per year - an average of about 20 lbs, per week per fisherman. At the end of 1951 there was not a single motor-powered fishing boat in operation except for one steam trawler. At that time FAO sent a master fisherman, and later a marine engineer to the country to advise on mechanization of the industry.
At the end of six months the fisherman all jumped at the opportunity to buy engines and other Ceylonese fishermen also clamoured for motors. Now 40 small diesel engines are being provided under the Colombo Plan and sold to the fishermen on easy terms and a number of private firms have started selling engines to the eager fisherman.
This photo shows fishermen hauling their beach-seine on an island off the north coast of Ceylon. These nets, which are a mile long, take as much as two hours to haul and need thirty men to do the work.