Sri Lanka’s first-ever seafood company wins Sustainability Award

Thursday, 16 December 2021 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Taprobane Seafoods Co-founders and Directors Timothy O’Reilly and Dilan Fernando accepting the Sustainability award on behalf of the Sri Lanka Blue Swimming Crab Fishery Improvement Project


The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce bestowed the highly coveted Sustainability Award for the Sri Lankan Blue Swimming Crab Fishery Improvement Project (SLBSC FIP) recently on Taprobane Seafoods. The industry-led initiative was initiated in 2013 by Taprobane Seafoods Ltd. and the National Fisheries Institute’s (NFI) Crab Council in partnership with the Seafood Exporters’ Association of Sri Lanka.

Accepting the award on behalf of the project, Taprobane Seafoods Managing Director Timothy O’Reilly said: “The SLBSC FIP has long been an enriching collaboration which has benefitted the marine resources and the health of the communities that harvest it. As a sustainable and socially responsible seafood company, we are proud to be associated with this project, working closely with Local Government authorities, research agencies and blue swimming crab fishing communities to protect Sri Lanka’s blue swimming crab.”

The SLBSC FIP became the first fisheries in Sri Lanka and the only Blue Swimming Crab fisheries in South and Southeast Asia to achieve a pre-assessment score equivalent to a PASS without conditions (Green) against the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) fisheries standard in 2020 and achieve a GOOD ALTERNATIVE (YELLOW) eco recommendation against the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s seafood watch criteria for fisheries in 2018.

The fisherman that partner with Taprobane use sustainable fishing methods, that is, using small boats required for shallow sea fishing which do not cause pollution nor destroy coral reefs or affect the marine ecosystem. This is an on-going process for the sustainable development of Sri Lanka’s seafood sector. Over its lifetime the FIP has succeeded in maintaining a focus on improving the biological status of the stock, reducing the ecological impact, strengthening fishery management and growing the economic benefit to fishing communities.

Commenting on the triumph, NFI Crab Council Executive Director Ed Rhodes said: “We would like to congratulate the Sri Lankan Blue Swimming Crab Fishery Improvement Project (FIP) for winning the Sustainability Award from the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce. They deserve this award as this project has been gaining ground for a decade now. This recognition will give them the impetus they need to scale up further.”

Central to the SLBSC FIP is the idea of collaboration between seafood exporters, government authorities and blue swimming crab fishing communities. The FIP’s objectives are to improve the biological and ecological status of the fishery and introduce management measures to maintain the status of the fishery at a level equivalent to a sustainably managed fishery. The involvement of fishing communities in FIP design, implementation, and decision-making has been instrumental in ensuring the integrity of the FIP. Community involvement has ensured that the FIP drives real improvements to the fishery, including the recent bottom-trawling ban.

Thai Union North America Senior Director of Sustainability & JEDI (Justice, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion) Roxanne Nanninga said: “We are very proud of the important work being done in Sri Lanka by our supplier partner, Taprobane Seafoods. Their commitment to rebuilding the northern region of Sri Lanka by providing essential livelihoods to women and their families, as well as achieving Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch recommendation after years of engagement with fishermen, local government, and scientists, should serve as an inspiration for all in the industry.”

Established in 2010, Taprobane Seafood has 15 processing facilities, employing over 2000 direct employees throughout the North-Western and Northern Provinces. Its uniqueness stems from the fact that all the employees who work in the processing plants in the North are women. Taprobane Seafoods began its success story with the committed and visionary leadership of Timothy O’Reilly, Dilan Fernando and Sathya Rathnayake.

Thai Union Executive Chairman Cheng Niruttinanon also sits on the Board of Directors of Taprobane Seafoods. Thai Union is the largest seafood company, globally, and its subsidiary, Chicken of the Sea Frozen Foods, the largest importer of crab and shrimp into the US market. Taprobane has also been certified by FSSC 22000 food safety standard and HACCP risk management system.

Taprobane Seafoods is led by a vision to be the global leader in sustainable and socially responsible aquaculture based on high-quality standards, social responsibility, sustainability, integrity, and success. The company produces premium quality seafood products for iconic brands such as Whole Foods USA, which requires complying with stringent quality and sourcing standards. Taprobane is also the leader and pioneer of pasteurised blue swimming crab and SPF vannamei shrimp. Taprobane was recently awarded the prestigious 3* status by Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP), the world’s leading certification authority in aquaculture practices.


Processing crab for export at the Taprobane Seafoods facility in Dankotuwa, directly sourced from the Blue Swimming Crab Fisheries located in the Gulf of Mannar and Palk Bay