Sri Lanka is targeting increased revenue from fishers with over 172 million tonnes of fish exported annually, the Industry and Commerce Minister said yesterday.
Addressing the 26th session of the INFOFISH Governing Council meeting, Industry and Commerce Minister Rishad Bathiudeen pointed out that from January to October 2011, Sri Lanka produced 309,580 metric tonnes of marine fish and 47,450 metric tonnes of freshwater fish.
Sri Lanka exports around 172 million tonnes of fish annually with 95 million tonnes fish imported to the country but the bulk of it is re-exported.
The sector currently provides direct employment to about 650,000 people comprising 150,000 in fishing, 100,000 in associated services and activities and 400,000 in fish trade.
“We hope to increase production to nearly 600,000 metric tonnes by 2013, from the present production of around 400,000MT. This will increase per capita fish consumption from the present 16gms/head/day to 60gms, in line with WHO recommendations. We also hope to almost double our aquaculture production to 90,000 metric tonnes to support this effort,” the Minister said.
The Minister also informed the gathering of opportunities for brackish water aquaculture in a total extent of around 6,000 acres in Puttalam, Hambantota, Galle, Batticaloa, Mannar, Jaffna and Trincomalee.
“The fisheries sector in Sri Lanka has also emerged as a dynamic export-oriented sector providing considerable foreign exchange to the country. It is recognised as a sector with high potential to earn foreign exchange earnings by exporting both marine and fresh water fish and fishery products to the international market. The value of exports has increased from US$ 103 m in 2005 to US$ 202 m in 2010, indicating an average growth of 15%. The main export markets for Sri Lanka are European Union, Japan and the USA.”
EDB is optimistic of achieving US$ 1 billion export revenue in fresh water fish exports by 2020. More than 120 Sri Lankan exporters send fish products to destinations such as Japan, USA and the EU.
The EDB has many strategies to strengthen this sector such as seafood exhibitions, assistance to adopt modern technology in an echo friendly manner, assistance to obtain international standards, and assistance to obtain market information, remarked EDB Chairman Janaka Ratnayake at the forum.