Fish exports to hit Rs. 5b target by 2013
Shoals of fish in shipwrecks.
Divers in deep sea
The Ministry of Fisheries is working out methods to double fish
exports and to increase the income from Rs. 1020 million to Rs. 5,000
million by 2013. The Fisheries Ministry with a view to achieving this
goal is looking into various viable moves.
Shipwrecks in our waters have been identified as ideal fish breeding
spots. NARA divers have found nine shipwrecks including HMS Hermes WW II
along Sri Lankan waters.
An officer attached to the Fisheries Ministry said that shipwrecks
help to increase fish harvest considerably. “It is our duty to protect
these ship wrecks,” he said.
NARA is engaged in marine and fisheries research and developing the
aquatic resources including conservation of sensitive ecosystems in
Gathering data, exploring biodiversity hot spots and the threats to
them, prioritising sensitive areas for future conservation and
supporting to create awareness of resource and its capacity to support
development initiatives are also the other duties of NARA and will
provide required information to formulate a sustainable fisheries
management plan for the province.
NARA is conducting various programs in connection with the protection
of ecosystems such as mangroves, coral reefs, sea grass beds, lagoons,
sand dunes, Currents and tides and Environmental quality (water
Preparation of maps on sensitive areas for future conservation with
regard to fisheries and marine resources and to develop key indicators
for monitoring the health and productivity of marine and fishery
resources are also what NARA does.
It conducts rapid field assessment to remedy data gaps and improve
the analysis of sensitive areas, refine maps prepared and improve the
database, confirm the key indicators developed and other prescribed
action to safeguard resources, preparation of awareness and
capacity-building material, confirm sensitive and ecologically important
areas and laying the groundwork for legal protection by declaring them
as Marine Protected Areas or Fishery Reserves.
NARA divers have found the wreck of the world’s first built aircraft
carrier, HMS Hermes which was sunk in the Japanese bombing during the
Second World War off the East coast of Sri Lanka.
NARA sources said that there is ample fish population in the wreck.
NARA sources said that HMS Hermes was the first purpose-built
aircraft carrier in the world. She was built by Armstrong Whitworth,
laid down on January 15, 1918 and launched on September 11, 1919. She
was subsequently commissioned in July 1923. After a distinguished
wartime career she was sunk on April 9, 1942.
According to Arjan Rajasooriya, biologist and diver of NARA, the
wreck is also covered with large black corals.
It has become an attraction to new divers, but is a challenging and
dangerous deep dive. “Not too long ago, one young businessman tragically
lost his life on a Hermes dive,” he said.
The wreck supports traditional fishermen and several families
depending in fishing on this wreck. The wreck is damaged by looters of
valuables such as armament of the vessel. A recent investigation by NARA
revealed that there have been attempts to remove one of the cannons off
The data stampings have been cleaned and local divers are reported to
have sent information to foreign buyers who will contract the illegal
Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development Minister, Rajitha
Senaratne has directed the relevant authorities to protect this wreck
NARA has taken moves to protect this wreck as fisheries,
cultural/archaeological, historical and tourism resource which could
remain of value for centuries to come. If plundered-salvaging will
benefit a few for a short-term and the wreck will be lost to future
generations of this country.
Dr. Hiran W. Jayewardene, founder Chairman of NARA said that the
Hermes is a War Grave as several hundreds of her crew perished when it
NARA has revived her 1980s program on wrecks, and is presently
inventorying all wrecks for long-term management under the Marine
Spatial Data Infrastructure (MSDI) established by the Agency. Extensive
damage has already been caused due to salvaging over the years-some of
it very recently.
A Ariyawansa, Director, NARA, National Hydrographic Office said that
Bathymetric profiles are now being obtained of this wreck sites with
special equipment as well as baseline records for periodic monitoring.
Scientists have begun the study of fish populations and their
dynamics. It will give better guidelines for developing future
Dharshan Jayawardana who maintains the popular website Dive Lanka,
has volunteered to work with NARA, which celebrated its thirteenth
anniversary this year, and has opened its doors to those interested in
marine research and conservation, and the ocean and its protection as a
national resource. Dr. Hiran Jayewardene further said that in the 1980s,
then NARA Adviser, the late Rodney Jonklass who actually discovered the
wrecks many years ago and was the first to dive.
He made several dives on the Hermes for NARA, and was joined by late
Commander Cedric Martensteyn who joined the Sri Lankan Navy from NARA.
They were later joined by a group of Australians which included the
ship,s photographer who had duly done his duty at the time of sinking
and preserved the valuable photos of her last moments.
Fish harvest in the North and East increased to 13 percent as a
result of the programs implemented by the Government to encourage
fishermen in the North and East during the past few years . The National
Aquatic Resources Research Development Agency (NARA) working closely
with the Fisheries Ministry is playing a key role in protecting aquatic
resources. The Fisheries Ministry has taken steps to increase fish
harvest to achieve self-sufficiency in fish products.
Fishermen in the North and East contributed to 43 percent of the
national fish harvest, fish harvest declined to eight percent.
The Ministry expressed confidence that fish harvest in the north and
East could be increased to 23 percent before the end of this year.
The Government targets to increase the fish harvest in the North and
East to 50 percent by 2013. A single person consumes approximately 13
kilos of fish per year. It is hoped that fish consumption per person
would increase to 21 percent by 2013.
Meanwhile, to eradicate malnutrition in children, the Ministry has
planned to increase fish harvest from 384,670 metric tons to 686,670
metric tons before the end of 2013.