By Shezna Shums
Moves are underway to increase and enhance fisheries capabilities of inland fish as well as other aquaculture products.
National Aquaculture Development Authority of Sri Lanka (NAQDA), Director General P. Nimal Chandraratne explained that moves were underway to increase the production capabilities of the fisheries sector.
Currently the country produces 51,000 metric tonnes of inland fish and aquaculture products, however by 2013, NAQDA is looking at producing 90,000 metric tonnes of inland fish and aquaculture products, while it hopes to produce 130,000 metric tonnes of inland fish and aquaculture products by 2016.
Under NAQDA there are four major breeding centres located in Dambulla, Udawalawe, Inginiyagala and Polonnaruwa. The Polonnaruwa breeding centre had been under the private sector but has now been taken back and is to be rehabilitated in order to meet the increasing production of inland fish and aquaculture products.
The Polonnaruwa breeding centre is the oldest as it was established in 1991, but had to cut back production owing to cessation of funding.
However, under the Government’s plans to increase inland fishing capabilities, this fourth breeding centre will be rehabilitated to accelerate production. “We are looking at expanding the breeding and rearing capabilities in the existing stations as well,” said Chandraratne.
In order for NAQDA to be able to increase fish capacity, it has to increase and expand its breeding and rearing of fish fingerlings and fish larvae, which will also see an upgrade of fish rearing capabilities.
NAQDA, in a move to increase production, also obtains the help from community-based seed producing centres as well as mini nurseries.
“There are about 25 mini nurseries and another 10 mini nurseries will be opened in the north of the country,” explained Chandraratne.
“Near the Iranamadu Tank, a separate aquaculture development centre will be established to assist in increasing the number of fish fingerlings,” he added.
According to the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development, moves are underway to increase the number of inland reservoirs for fish breeding.
Another area that is being looked into for improvement is the shrimp farming sector. In the north western part of the country 4,500 hectares of lands are available for shrimp farming, however only 1,700 hectares are being utilised for this purpose.
NAQDA has also established a crop calendar and identified 36 sub zones and provided certain times of the year for shrimp cultivation to be carried out to gain the full potential with the minimum damage. “We are looking at enhancing shrimp farming in Batticaloa and pilot projects have started as well,” said Chandraratne.
Chandratane noted that there were other potential areas within the fisheries sector that Sri Lanka was looking at starting and enhancing, such as the rearing and production of sea bass, sea cucumber and garupa fish, which are in demand worldwide.