Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Fieldwork at Weligama fishing beach

The words 'group work' are enough to make most uni students cringe, but a whole new dimension is added when the exchange of ideas takes place across language and cultural barriers. Our usual modes of communication, and the assumptions of commonality they are based on must give way to a more elemental, considered process, so that both local knowledge and fresh perspectives can balance and harmonise to create intuitive solutions to the issues we are addressing.

Weligama beach (western end)

The western end of Weligama beach is an area removed from the general hubbub of tourism activity, home to the local fishing fleet and the activities associated with it - net mending, drying facilities and a fish market. Traversing the length of the beach, we were able to both observed the daily activities and engage with local fisherman, traders and tourists to get a snapshot off how the area is currently used. In this, our approach has been to ask 'why', as well as 'what' and 'how'.

Fishing boats at Weligama beach

Engaging with local fishermen


Our challenge is to preserve the identity of the area while enhancing its character to make a usable and enjoyable space for both locals and tourists, providing for expanding economic growth, and making the area more accessible from the town centre. With rapid changes spreading across Sri Lanka, particularly the Expressway joining Colombo and the south coast, we see the potential for Weligama to carve a niche where internal and international tourists can partake in an array of traditional and contemporary fishing, culinary and recreational practices, preserving and environment and culture that is both uniquely Sri Lankan and widely appealing.

Kate Clarke, Second Year
Bachelor of Urban, Rural and Environmental Planning

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