SRI LANKA: Colombo: Minister of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development P. Harrison says since the per capita fish consumption in Sri Lanka is still not high enough to meet the nutritional needs of the people, it is necessary to take measures to increase the freshwater fish production in the country.
The Minister made this statement while participating in a discussion with the officials of the Ministry of Fisheries.
State Minister of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development Dilip Wedaarachchi, Parliamentarians Hesha Withanage and Chaminda Wijesiri, and Secretary to the Ministry. KDS Ruwan Chandra and several others were also present at the discussion.
Expressing his views further, Minister Harrison said there are about 27,000 reservoirs including some 12,000 small tanks in the country and by raising the freshwater fish production in these reservoirs, local fish consumption could be increased.
He explained that although Sri Lanka has a large sea zone, the country hasn't been able to produce sufficient fish harvest since the sea zone around the country is very deep and therefore, breeding of fish is low.
"However, if we take steps to uplift the fish production in our inland waterways, people will be able to consume the fresh fish," he said.
"From what I have learned a person in general needs to consume 46 kilograms of fish per year. However, people of the central highlands do not even consume 12 kilograms of fish per year. Therefore, people in some areas of our country do not get the nutrition that can be obtained from fish consumption," the Minister explained.
"Therefore, as the Ministry of Fisheries, we have a huge responsibility to increase the total fish production in the future. As the Minister I give it the necessary leadership."
The Minister further said at present chicken is the most commonly consumed protein in the country because of the unavailability of fresh fish and the price of chicken meat is less than the price of fish.
Minister Harrison urged the officials to expedite the program to increase the local fish production and exports of fishery products.
"Since we acted collectively as a government, we managed to get rid of the export ban imposed by the European Union on our fish exports during the Mahinda Rajapaksa government. In 2015 we lost Rs. 16 billion due to the ban. However, once the government got the ban lifted we were able to lift the fishery exports by 44 percent. My expectation is to further increase this situation," he said.