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Sunday, 8 April 2012

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Fish production to hit 6,85,000 MTs in 2013



President Mahinda Rajapaksa opens the Canned Fish factory in Galle.

The President Rajapaksa examines a tin of fish produced by the factory.


The President inspects the factory

Sri Lanka imported canned fish, dried fish and sprats worth over Rs. 16,420 million last year. The government has implemented projects to meet the country's fish requirement said Fisheries and Aquatic Resource Development Minister Rajitha Senaratna in an interview with the Sunday Observer

Q: President Mahinda Rajapaksa opened a canned fish factory at the Galle harbour constructed at a cost of Rs. 84 million last week.

This is a long overdue project which your predecessors too were interested in but never got off the ground.

A: The first cannery was set up in Pesalai, Mannar in 1980 followed by a number of mini canneries.

Terrorism did not warrant the functioning of any existing commercial pursuits in the North and the East let along commissioning new ventures.

The Ceyfish cannery in Galle is a private-public venture between the Ceylon Fisheries Corporation and Happy Cook Lanka Foods (Pvt) Ltd. It has a capacity to produce 10,000 tins a day which could be increased to 12,000 within a few months and around 20,000 at the final stage of the project. Ceyfish, the new product will initially cater to the local market.

Q: Will it be cheaper than imported canned fish?

A: It will be cheaper than the current prices ranging from Rs. 250 to Rs. 290 for a 425g fish tin.

Q: When will the next two factories be opened.

A: Work on the canned factories at Peliyagoda and Mundalama has been completed and these factories will be opened soon. They have a production capacity of 50,000 cans a day.

Q: what is the present situation of fish imports to Sri Lanka.ThA: Sri Lanka requires over 51,400 kilograms of canned fish daily which is over 100,000 fish tins.

Around Rs. 5,120 million is spent on imported canned fish. From Rs. 3,536 million to Rs. 5,118 million was spent on imported canned fish during 2009, 2010, and 2011. Sri Lanka also imports dry fish, sprats and maldive fish.

Around 27,593 metric tons of these varieties of fish at a cost of Rs. 4,328 million were imported in 2011. Our aim is to develop the local dry fish, sprats and maldive fish industries.

Q: Would you explain your development strategies to improve the dry fish and maldive fish production.

A: The first maldive fish factory will be opened in the Industrial Zone in Kalutara before the end of this year. A maldive fish producer in Japan had agreed to set up maldive fish factory in Sri Lanka. The consumers would be able to purchase maldive fish at half the present market price after the factory is set up. The fisher community also has commenced producing dried fish, sprats and maldive fish as a cottage industry.

The Ceyfish factory

Assistance such as loans technical know-how will be provided to them. The fisheries ministry also hopes to set up a few factories to produce maldive fish, dry fish and sprats. Discussions were held with prospective investors.

Q: The fish consumption in the country has increased annually. Are there plans to increase fish production?

A: Fisheries ministry has targeted a harvest of 6,85,000 MT in 2013. Discussions are being held with Somalia, and Bangladesh seeking permission for fishing in their seas which have abundant fish resource.

Our fisherman should venture into deepseas. Boats, ships and fishing gears for deepsea fishing will be provided to fishermen. The fishing profession will be made a profitable career soon.

Q: The fishing industry resumed operations with the liberation of the North and the East. What is the current progress?

A: The Northern and Eastern provinces provided 43 percent of the fish harvest in the country before the conflict. It dropped to eight percent thereafter.

In the past two years the fisheries ministry achieved a noteworthy progress in the the North and the East, as fish production increased by Six percent.

Currently the North and the East provinces accounts for 13 percent of the national production. All measures are in place to increase this to 23 percent at the end of this year. The target is to double this amount by 2013.

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