Sri Lanka’s first Multi-Species Marine Finfish Hatchery was inaugurated in Tharmapuram, Batticaloa to facilitate the development of marine finfish farming, and produce sufficient amounts of marine fish to meet the demands of the national and international markets. The hatchery was ceremonially declared open by Minister of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development Hon. Mahinda Amaraweera. The State Minister of Rehabilitation and Resettlement, Chief Minister of the Eastern Province, the Minister of Fisheries of the Eastern Province and the Batticaloa District Secretary were among the dignitaries present at the ceremony.
Speaking at the inauguration ceremony, Minister Mahinda Amaraweera stated that the establishment of the Multi-Species Marine Finfish Hatchery is a historic milestone in the fisheries sector as it will contribute to the export earnings of the country and also create 4000 direct and indirect job opportunities. “Our country is surrounded by the sea and it has many reservoirs and lagoons but we still import fish,” said the Minister, “Our hope is to reduce fish imports and increase fish exports by 2020.” Minister Amaraweera noted that the aim is to make the fisheries sector the 3rd highest foreign exchange earner by 2020, adding that “the lifting of the EU ban, and the GSP+ concessions are a great impetus to the development of the fisheries sector.”
Head of Cooperation of the European Union Delegation to Sri Lanka and the Maldives, Ms. Libuse Soukupova reiterated that the proper management of the marine finfish hatchery could bring in export earnings to Sri Lanka as there is a good market in the European Union for finfish varieties such as Seabass, Grouper, Milk Fish, Silver Pomfret, Sea bream, Mahi Mahi, Cobia and Snapper. Ms. Soukupova stated that encouraging aquaculture such as seabass culture fisheries through the establishment of such a hatchery, minimizes the exploitation of lagoon and marine fisheries while enhancing the income level of the fisher communities.
The Multi-Species Marine Finfish Hatchery was constructed by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in partnership with the National Aquaculture Development Authority (NAQDA) with Rs. 142 million from the European Union. The hatchery which was established under the European Union Support to District Development Programme (EU-SDDP) has the capacity to produce 4 million fingerlings annually for marine finfish farming in the country.
“I am confident that the hatchery will be a turning point in the development of the aquaculture sector in Sri Lanka, “said Ms. Nina Brandstrup, the FAO Representative to Sri Lanka. “The hatchery will allow both small scale and commercial fish producers to meet the demands for high quality, high value and sustainably produced fish, in the country and abroad.”
Jointly implemented by five agencies of the United Nations, the EU-SDDP with a total financial envelope of EUR 60 million, aims at supporting the Government of Sri Lanka’s thrust for economic and social development in seven conflict-affected districts covering half a million people.