One of the worst affected countries in the region has been Indonesia. In the Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam Province of Indonesia, where 42 000 fishers and their families live, 70 per cent of the small-scale fishing fleet are estimated to have been destroyed. In Nias Island, about 800 fishing canoes have been destroyed. Two thirds of local fisherfolk from the capital Banda Aceh were killed by the waves.
Fish farming was severely affected in northern Sumatra with about 1 000 fish cage farms having been completely destroyed.
"FAO is currently assessing the damage and will help the government and local authorities to repair and replace fishing boats and gear and start with the initial repair of water fishponds and infrastructure so that fish production can be resumed as soon as possible," said Jeremy Turner, Chief of the Fishery Technology Service.
In the affected coastal areas of Thailand, 386 fishing villages with a population of around 120 000 people have lost about 4 500 fishing boats, or their fishing gear has been seriously damaged. Most fishing boats are owned by small-scale, traditional fishers. The total damage to marine capture fisheries alone is estimated at around $16.6 million (€12.6m).
Eight fishing harbours and their infrastructure have been seriously damaged. The affected aquaculture industry has suffered a serious setback. A total of around 15 800 fishing cages have been damaged, this has caused losses of about $33 million. In some areas, seafood supplies have dropped by 90 percent since the tsunami.
FAO says that it is preparing support measures for fisherfolk in six southern Provinces of Thailand providing essential fisheries inputs and assisting in the repair of damaged fishing vessels and damaged fishery infrastructure.
Elsewhere in the region, the fishing industries in the Maldives, Sri Lanka, India, Myanamar and as far away as Somalia have all been seriously impacted and the FAO estimates that livelihoods of 6,000 fisherman have been seriously impacted in Malaysia.
The damage caused by the recent tsunamis in the fisheries and aquaculture sectors of the affected countries is worse and more complex than expected, Turner said.
FAO's Fisheries Department has embarked on a concerted effort to assist the fisheries and aquaculture sectors of the tsunami effected countries through relief and rehabilitation measures and projects.
Inevitably seafood processing companies that heavily rely on affected areas of the Indian Ocean will be seriously impacted by the devastating affect of the tsunami. The region has also become significant for farmed seafood, with prawn farming developed to become a major industry in recent years, particularly in Thailand and Indonesia. Indeed many of the major prawn farmers operating out of the Bay of Bengal have reported that there business have been completely wiped out.