The commitment of the Asian political leadership is essential to collectively overcome the challenges faced by fisheries and aquaculture at present, said President Mahinda Rajapaksa, delivering the keynote address to the Asian Regional Ministerial Meeting on Aquaculture for Food Security, Nutrition and Economic Development, 28 July at the Hilton Hotel, Colombo.
Many policy initiatives such as strong trading standards, removing non-tariff barriers and eliminating unfair trading practices are imperative for the welfare of our fish farmers, he noted.
"We often read today of how fish is our last wild food and that our oceans are being picked clean. We learn of factory trawlers that scrape the ocean floor threatening the livelihoods of fishing communities in countries and regions."
"These trawlers are commercial operations while the small time fisherman goes out fishing as a means of day to day living. This meeting is most timely because the natural habitat of fish is being gravely threatened and aqua-culture development is of special importance," he further conceded.
"Methods that can improve sustainability are necessary because their absence can have adverse effects on small farmers and fishers. These need to be tackled with speed and great sensitivity before vulnerable communities that depend on fishing and fish farming are harmed," he added.
The President also conceded that the human and material resources required to achieve these "great goals" in fisheries and aquaculture are easily available. "But the challenge is to put these resources together that are within different borders and institutions of individual states and territories," he mentioned.
Elaborating on the issue of compliance with various international trading standards that is a serious problem faced by developing countries and small scale farmers, the President stressed the pressing need to address this situation politically.
He said the best results come when farmers, especially, the small holders are empowered technologically and politically. "It is when they have both the means and the voice. With greater awareness and empowerment, higher standards and good farming practice, they will not be driven out of business," he stressed.
For the full speech follow: www.defence.lk
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