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Fishery Sector Records Over 15 Per Cent Growth

SRI LANKA - The Central Bank of Sri Lanka in its 2011 Annual Report says the fisheries sector saw a healthy 15.6 per cent growth in its output last year but the country still spends $147 million on the import of fish and fish products. Last year Sri Lankas fish harvest amounted to 444,830 metric tons.

The amount spent on imports has shown a steady increase from $108 Million in 2007 to $128 million in 2010 and to $147 million last year.

While marine fish production increased by 16 per cent to 385,270 metric tons last year, the inland fish production has increased by 13.6 per cent to 59,560 metric tons. The highest growth has been witnessed in deep sea fishing compared to coastal fishing.

The Central Bank report points out that except the Eastern Province, all other provinces showed an increase in fish catch supported by favourable weather conditions. Fish production in the Eastern Province has declined by around four per cent due to adverse weather conditions.

The report also points out that fish production in the Northern Province increased significantly by 38 per cent last year reflecting increased participation of people in the fishing industry in the Province.

However, the relative contribution of the Northern Province in total marine fish production in 2011 was only 12 per cent compared to that of 41 per cent in 1983.

Therefore, the Bank emphasises that it is necessary to increase the fishery fleet in the Northern Province while improving the fishery infrastructure to reach the full potential of production in the Province.

Meanwhile, the improvement recorded in the inland fishery sector was largely a result of releasing 44 million fish fingerlings and 11 million fresh water prawns during the year. The Bank report also says that retail prices of large varieties of fish in 2011 remained relatively high during the second half of the year compared to the corresponding period of 2010, largely due to the decline in the fish supply from the Eastern Province. The prices of small varieties remained somewhat subdued throughout the year largely due to improved coastal fish catch in the Southern and North Western provinces.

Lucy Towers

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