Sunday, July 24, 2011

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Fresh boost for fisheries sector

  • Sunday, July 24, 2011
  • Aruntha Kanagaratnam
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  • Banning of indiscriminate fishing methods, launching of the Fishery Improvement Project (FIP) as well as enforcement of regulations by the government has helped the fisheries sector to maintain exports.

    President Seafood Exporters Association of Sri Lanka, Roshan Fernando said that banning of indiscriminate fishing methods by the government has helped to showcase the country as environment friendly at international forums. The enforcement of regulations such as input management systems for controlling fishing methods and the control of catch has given us a boost in the international market, he said.

    Roshan Fernando

    The Seafood Exporters Association of Sri Lanka in collaboration with the importers of yellow fin tuna in the UK commenced the Sri Lanka FIP initiative under the guidance of the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP) to enhance management efforts of the Sri Lankan tuna fishery and ensure sustainability of its resources for the benefit of future generations. SFP, a non-governmental organisation committed to maintaining healthy ocean and aquatic ecosystems announced the formal launch of the Sri Lanka FIP. The Ministry of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources has expressed support for improvement via regulations such as banning all forms of trawling, and adopting measures to curb illegal fishing within its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

    The FIP brings together resources and expertise to support the Seafood Exporters Association of Sri Lanka in their efforts to meet the international market sustainability requirements. Sri Lanka is a major exporter of tuna for European markets. However, some of the Indian Ocean tuna stocks are declining as a consequence of high fishing pressure. Companies are working together in the FIP to assure long-term supplies of tuna and to maintain the health of stocks and ecosystems. This is the first of several future FIPs on yellow fin and big eye tuna in the Indian Ocean region that will yield stock level improvements with a common set of expectations and rules for fisheries and markets alike. Fernando said that the world is moving towards environment friendly methods and buyers of sea food are sensitive and eager to ensure that they are buying fish caught by sustainable fishing methods.

    The Good Fish Guide ranks countries as Red,(not to purchase) Amber(think) and green (can purchase). The fish imported to UK from countries in the Red List are not purchased while Sri Lanka and the Maldives are classified under the Amber List. The rest of the Indian ocean coast countries are classified under the Red List. Therefore we have an edge over other countries who are competing with us.

    Fernando said that our fishermen get Rs. 700 for a kilo of export grade Tuna and it is the highest price paid by a country within South Asia and South East Asia regions.

    He said that our country has to go for niche products as our fish production is small. The fishery regulations are adequate to export to any country while our quality control methods too are very good. He said that the processing factories in our country are on par with other countries and labour is highly skilled.

    Therefore we can import fish from countries such as New Zealand, process and re-export.

    Fernando who is also Executive Director/CEO Tess Group of Companies said that about five companies are to start fish canning soon. Tess will invest Rs. 150m on machinery to start a cannery. “Initially, we will start with 15,000 cans a day while we have the capacity to increase it to 50,000 cans per day”, he said. The Metro chain of super markets, a large chain of super markets in the world with 60 supermarkets in Germany who are buyers of Tess have agreed to have a mix box of fish on display at all their super markets. The mix box will consist of eight kilos of fish in five varieties and the catch is from the North and East.

    Representatives of Metro will be in Sri Lanka next month to support the fishermen of the North and the East and also get first hand experience. This is their way of giving back to the community, said Fernando.

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