Among the projects being launched for an increase in seafood harvest is a sea weed industry in Jaffna which makes a harvest of 2,000 kilogrammes while providing employment opportunities for several thousand youth.
The budget has significantly increased the allocation of funds giving a special preference to the fisheries sector. An additional Rs. 2 has been allocated for the sector. Another Rs. 4 Billion have been allocated for fisheries infrastructure and port development.
There is a significant increase in the output of fishery products, number of vessels, and the number of persons engaged in the fisheries industry. For the first time this year, there has been a fish harvest of 500,000 metric tons compared to the same period last year with a 51.8 per cent increase. At present, there are more than 250,000 persons engaged in the fishing industry.
These details were disclosed by the Minister of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development Dr Rajitha Senaratne addressing a media conference held at the Department of Information in Colombo yesterday.
Elaborating further, the Minister said that Sri Lanka exported 14,172 metric tons of fish products last year and it has been increased to 16,1402 metric tons this year.
The Minister said that infrastructure facilities of 20 fishery harbours have been developed, 11 new fishery harbours were constructed, agreements have been signed with a Taiwan company for the construction of another six fishery harbours and with a Chinese company for the modernization of seven fishery harbours.
Dr Senaratne said that the per capita consumption of fish has been increased. He said that the government was successful in controlling the fish prices in the market since the year 2011. The Minister said that a chain of fish stall have been established throughout the country including in several super markets and in Sathosa and Coop City outlets which has paved the way for bringing fish prices and provide fresh fish to the consumers.
Brackish water fish industry has also been significantly developed and it has become the main source of fish for the people in inland rural areas.
The Minister said that the dried fish industry has also made a significant improvement and only a minor portion of dried fish is now being imported. Similarly the maldive fish import has been reduced by 44 per cent.
Referring to welfare facilities being provided to the fishing community, the Minister said that an insurance scheme for the fishermen with many benefits has been introduced with a premium payment of only 750 rupees. A pension scheme has also been introduced. The Minister said that from next year a satellite technology system will be introduced for the location of multi day fishing vessels, and wearing of life jackets, insuring of the vessels will be made compulsory from 1 January next year.