SRI LANKA :Non-government organisation Friend of the Sea awarded a Sri Lanka’s tuna processor for its commitment towards yellowfin tuna conservation in the Indian Ocean.
A proof of this commitment is the project recently launched by the Negombo-based company Tropic Sri Lanka, named“FCP@SEA” and intended to improve recruitment rates through assisted reproductive technology, thereby allowing a second generation of yellowfin tuna to return back to the ocean.
As part of the project, carried out in collaboration with the Sri Lanka government and the private sector, a team of experts from the firm engaged in the viable extraction of eggs and sperm from commercially caught tuna carcasses and implement assisted fertilization at sea.
“We are now in the start-up phase of the project. We are carrying out age analysis on the catch and assessing sexual maturity at associated depths, studying the adjustment of fishing gear at various depths and training crews of nominated fishing vessels to maximize the effectiveness of harvesting viable reproductive organs of the fish caught,” pointed out Sashini Fernando, the firm’s Chief Sustainability Officer.
After the fertilization and the primary maturation phase of the larvae, reaching approximately 2cm, the fingerlings would be released into the ocean to specific locations targeting suitable habitat with consideration of water quality parameters such as chlorophyll concentration, currents and temperature appropriate for their maturation.
Considering each spawning of yellowfin tuna releases about 8 to 10 million eggs per year, FCP@SEA has set the ambitious goal to contribute to the reproduction of 20 million individuals by 2020.
Tropic Sri Lanka’s attempt is not unique in its genre. In 2007, the Japanese government started a reproduction project of bluefin tuna to support the increasing demand of sashimi. What differs is that assisted reproductive technology is applied to farming due to geo-morphological constraints, while in the case of Sri Lanka the same technique is conducted out of sea making of FCP@SEA a pioneering project.
“Our first contact with Tropic Sri Lanka dates back to 2010 when they first obtained Friend of the Sea certification for yellowfin, bigeye and swordfish tuna. With this award we acknowledge the great steps the company has taken in order to reach higher standards for environmental sustainability following Sri Lanka’s fish export ban to Europe in 2014,” commented Paolo Bray, Founder and Director of Friend of the Sea.
The environmentalist expressed hope that this innovative project is successful and replicated in other parts of the world.