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Global Aquaculture Fund Vital

SRI LANKA - Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa has urged the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) to consider setting up a global fund for responsible aquaculture.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa wants a global aqauculture fund

Addressing the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation via video link he said such a fund would assist small farmers in developing countries engaged in aquaculture to become sustainable, responsible and competitive in production and marketing.

The presentation was part of a FAO session on Fisheries and Aquaculture, set up to assess key issue facing the sector, globally.

President Rajapaksa said that every individual's right to adequate food is under threat due to the increased dangers to marine fish stocks by over-fishing and environmental degradation.

"It is timely that the Food and Agricultural Organisation has thought it necessary to devote this special session to Fisheries and Aquaculture, in the context of the growing importance of the harvest from the waters of the earth - both from the sea and inland waters - in helping people to enjoy their right to food and achieve the elimination of hunger."

He said that there were huge dangers to fish stocks in rivers, lagoons, tanks and other inland waters by industry and construction and there was an urgent need for action to conserve mangroves.

"These issues must be seriously considered by FAO and its member states in order to move forward to protect the marine habitat and inland waters, to keep alive fisheries and aquaculture for the good of man and all other species of this planet," said President Rajapaksa

He also asked the FAO to give serious consideration to the establishment of a Global Aquaculture Federation, managed by the FAO, that would join the farming and farm-servicing community and private sector investors in aquaculture.

He believed that aquaculture was a main source of fish and human food, with growing importance as a food producing sector.

And, in the context of the ever diminishing access to food supplies for the vast mass of people, fisheries and aquaculture were faced with increasing problems of expansion, marketing, and standards.

He said that those worst affected by this were the small-scale fish farmers, who faced the same threats as those engaged in agriculture in the developing countries.

“In Sri Lanka are using aquaculture in the process of rehabilitation in the East, now liberated from the clutches of terror," he explained. “Agriculture and fisheries are the two major occupations of the people of this province. As far as agriculture is concerned, the Government has now taken measures to hand over the agricultural lands earlier occupied by the LTTE, to their owners."

Eager for investment
Sri Lanka is eager to improve its infrastructure and provide assistance that will allow fishing communities to resume their livelihoods. And it is looking for international support to help accelerate its development programme .

"We see that there is a great opportunity for both private and pubic sector participation in economic activity, with fisheries being responsible for a major share of the new developments there,” said President Rajapaksa.

Fisheries and aquaculture is a small sector in Sri Lanka, compared with many other Asian countries. However, it is an important sector within the domestic economy, contributing 1.8 per cent to GDP.

"We believe this could be improved. The policies of our government, makes provision for fisheries to contribute to increasing growth of the economy, hopefully taking it to double digit growth, he added.