Top Lankan team heading for Brussels on decisive fishery ban talks


Mar 18, 2016 (LBO) – A top team including officials from the Prime Ministerial Task Force is scheduled to depart for Brussels on 30 March for decisive talks on the EU Fishery ban, Seafood Exporters Association said.

Chairman of Seafood Exporters Association Prabhash Subasinghe said this meeting is almost expected to be the final and decisive meeting with EU on the fishery ban.

“Its outcome will determine our fishery export outlook to Europe in future. We believe the outcome shall be favorable for Sri Lanka,” Subasinghe said.

He was speaking at a special discussion where the State Minister of International Trade Sujeewa Senasinghe was attending with Lankan seafood exporters.

Representatives from leading seafood export firms including Global Seafoods, NorthWest Fishery, Sri Lanka Aquaculture Producers Association participated the meeting.

“Especially in the post-ban period, our seafood exports are suffering,” Subasinghe said.

“For example, we need to pay a licence fee of $50 per tonne of seafood we export while suffering from inadequate production volumes to meet the export demands,”

“The 9% tariff charged by China on our seafood exports is a problem and this needs to be discussed at FTA formulation. We praise the government’s prompt responses to the EU in this, which are helping us to overcome our export setbacks.”

Despite the ban, three EU countries Italy, UK and Netherlands were among the top five buyers of Lankan seafood in 2014, while the US and Japan topped the list in the same year.

Lankan seafood production tripled by 2015 from 2004 volumes and of the total harvest, only about a quarter is exported due to heavy domestic consumer demand.

More than 70 percent of Lankan seafood exports consist of tuna fish. The 252.7 million US dollars Lankan seafood exports in 2014 but declined by 35 percent to 163.1 million US dollars in 2015.

“In fact, 95% of compliance work on Fishery ban has been completed by us,” Minister Senasinghe said.

“It is time we commence an image building campaign and also time to launch a sustainable fisheries based efforts so that we can make fishery exports a $1 Bn sector soon.”

Sri Lanka currently complies with the stringent regulations imposed by importing countries and adheres to HACCP, BRP, Friend of Sea and other food security environment friendly requirements when it comes to seafood exports.

“It is time for Lankan seafood to enter global markets as a common, single brand to build its brand and overcome the setbacks.” EDB Chairperson Indira Malwatte said.