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Sri Lanka to boost deep sea fishing, double exports to US$500mn
08 May, 2013 11:54:12
May 08, 2012 (LBO) - Sri Lanka is planning to boost deep sea fishing and double tuna exports by 2015 with the help of new vessels from Japan and China, fisheries minister Rajitha Senaratne said.
"We hope to increase exports from 250 million US dollars to about 500 million" Senaratne told reporters.

He said Kiyoshi Kimura of Japan known as Tuna King has visited Sri Lanka and he expects to bring about 4 vessels for deep sea fishing. Kimura runs a sushi restaurant chain in Japan.

Kimura also intends to build vessels in collaboration with Sri Lanka's Cey-Nor company to be operated out of Sri Lanka, he said.

Ocean Going Vessels

Kimura is eventually expected to help operate fleet of 20 vessels from Sri Lanka. Senarathne said about 20 Chinese vessels were also expected to operate from Sri Lanka with about 4 to 6 vessels expected shortly.

Vessels from both countries will be registered in Sri Lanka and operated under the Sri Lankan flag and they will land their catch and export from the island, he said.

Senaratne said he was starting a training course to train skippers and the Kimura had also agreed to take on Sri Lankan crew and train them.

Senaratne said Sri Lanka had exported 256 million dollars worth of fisheries products last year out of which about 45 percent was tuna.

At the moment a few dozen foreign flagged deep sea fishing vessels from Taiwan, Indonesia and Malaysia were operating in international waters which landed their catch in Sri Lanka for export. There were about 200 landings a year.

Though Sri Lanka had about 3,000 multi-day boats only about 300 vessels are operated in the deep sea and most were engaged in coastal fisheries, he said.

Very few went to international waters, he said. Most of the catch in international waters in the Indian Ocean was made by vessels from developed nations, he said.

Developed nations were using large vessels with a capacity of 900 tonnes compared to 15 to 20 tonnes for Sri Lankan boats and some were using industrial purse seining which was a bad practice while Sri Lanka was using long line which caught the larger fish.

The large vessels used helicopters and satellite imagery to catch fish, he said.

Sri Lanka would need 300 multi-day boats to match a single such vessel he said.

International Rules

Senaratne said Sri Lanka expected a 'yellow card' warning from the EU for alleged illegal vessels would be removed.

He said tough action had been taken against illegal, unregistered and unregulated (IUU) vessels he had met the top official in charge of fisheries the European Commission and updated on the actions taken.

He said EU was a major importer of Sri Lankan fisheries products and he was fully prepared to comply with any international regulations. Sri Lanka's compliance with international fishery regulations had gone up to 47 percent from 10 percent over three years he said.

Since he took over as minister, arrests of Sri Lankan IUU vessels had fallen dramatically, he said. From 13 in 2011, it had fallen to one last year and in the year to May 2013 there was none, he said.

He said the EU commission officials were not fully aware of the actions taken in Sri Lanka to curb illegal fishing, not only by Sri Lankan vessels in international waters but also in promoting sustainable fisheries at home with its own maritime area.

Sri Lanka had taken steps to ban purse seining, dynamite, light course fishing and stopped the sale and import of nets that damaged the fishery resources.

In the Indian Ocean Tuna commission Sri Lanka was about to be blacklisted when he was made minister but the country has made so much progress that they were now deeply involved in international fishery rule formation, he said.

Update II

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3. jayantha May 09
Srilanken be careful,long term you are the looser: Deep-sea bottom trawling is one of the main reasons the coalition came together. It is the most common type of deep sea fishing - an estimated 80% of the high seas deep-sea catch is taken through bottom trawling.

And deep-sea bottom trawling is very bad for the marine environment. It’s so destructive that over 1,000 scientists from around the world signed a petition to ban it back in 2004

First, you have the gear. Huge nets with weighted rollers and heavy doors are dragged across the sea floor. This method grinds away the bottom habitat and indiscriminately catches whatever falls in or leaves it crushed in its wake. To draw a better picture, one company markets what it calls 'Canyonbusters' - trawl doors that weigh up to five tons each!

Second, deep-sea life is tremendously fragile. Because of the extreme conditions, ecosystem productivity is very low. This means that a deep-sea ecosystem will take decades to centuries to recover even from a single trawl sweep

2. sneaky May 09
Its unbelievable how the country's resources are sold under the illusion that its somehow a favour that these foreign vessels are providing.

I don't think our leaders are fools. They know exactly what they are doing. Its just that they don't care about the people and the state any more.

1. Mehemath moda relak May 08
What a bunch of fools are we to allow commercial fishermen to clean out the deep seas here? The Japanese and Chinese will empty the oceans of the fish stocks and we will have to eat canned fish. Sri Lankan politicians are short sighted fools who implement policies with disasterous consequenses