Oceanpick stocks Sri Lanka’s very first sea cages in Trinco

Monday, 24 February 2014 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

By Marianne David An oceanic farming trailblazer stocked Sri Lanka’s very first sea cages on Saturday in Trincomalee, gearing up to harvest the benefits of the country’s vast ocean resources. Launching the groundbreaking aquaculture venture, Oceanpick in joint partnership with Kames Fish Farming stocked the sea cages with barramundi juveniles. Minister of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development Dr. Rajitha Senaratne introduced the initial batch into a pen, kicking off Sri Lanka’s accessibility to premium quality, responsibly-farmed marine fish. A BOI-approved company that follows Scottish standards adhered to by its partner, Oceanpick plans to widen its portfolio to several other species shortly. The first harvest is scheduled to take place end 2014. “Sri Lanka has not utilised its ocean resources properly, especially during the war. Now we are completely free to do so,” said Senaratne, addressing the gathering in Trincomalee. “This is a modern, high technology project, introducing new technology to aquaculture. Sea bass is a very good product and the fisheries industry is a quick money earning industry,” he added. Sri Lanka’s fisheries industry has received a new lease of life since the end of the war in 2009, with production now reaching 515,000 MT from 339,000 MT in 2009. Minister Senaratne is confident that if allocations for the industry are raised, it will be able to generate the same foreign exchange as the tourism industry. The first phase of the Oceanpick project comprises a US$ 4 million investment and the company’s nursery now contains barramundi fry, also called Asian sea bass and locally known as modha. The cages were stocked from this first batch, following several weeks in the nursery in preparation for transfer. Oceanpick, headed by Founder/Director Irfan Thassim, commenced its journey in 2011, focusing on producing top notch marine fish using Sri Lanka’s pristine seas. Utilising the vast ocean resource instead of pressuring wild fish into extinction, Oceanpick farms barramundi in open seas in a responsible manner. Thassim said Oceanpick had created history by launching sea cages. “This venture is a victory for the country in general and the fishing industry in particular. I hope that others follow in Oceanpick’s footsteps and follow the same principle of doing it right,” Thassim asserted. Oceanpick General Manager Owen Stevens asserted that given the right stimulus, Sri Lanka has the potential to be a major player in global seafood production and a powerhouse in the marine aquaculture sector.