Vessel monitoring improves Sri Lanka fisheries sustainability
ECONOMYNEXT – The introduction of a Vessel Monitoring Service (VMS) to track fishing boats in Sri Lankan waters has improved the sustainability of the island’s fisheries industry, an official said.
Sri Lanka now has good regulations to ensure all fishing is done sustainably, Sashimi Fernando, chief sustainability officer, Tropic Fishery, a tuna fish exporter, told a business conference about the potential of the blue economy.
This was after a government crackdown on illegal fishing which had prompted a ban on Sri Lankan fish exports to the European Union.
Sri Lankan fish exports to the EU were recovering fast after the ban was lifted, State Minister of Finance, Eran Wickremaratne, told the forum held by the Royal Norwegian Embassy and the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce.
“Fish exports slumped after the EU ban,” Wickremaratne said. “Exports have begun to recover after the ban was lifted and were up 41.8% in volume and 48% in rupee terms in 2017 compared with 2016.”
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Fernando, of Tropic Fishery, said the fisheries department was closely monitoring the movement of fishing boats and their catch after radio transponders were installed on them under the VMS.
“The VMS has made a big improvement in our sustainability levels,” she told the forum.
Fernando said Sri Lanka’s tuna fishing was more sustainable due to its reliance on small scale boats of 24 metres or less in length with only 6-8 crew members which operate without electronic aids like artificial fish aggregator devices.
“There’s minimal by-catch, no juveniles and reduced percentage of spawning individuals caught,” Fernando said.
(COLOMBO, June 22, 2018)
Kithmina Hewage- Institute of Policy Studies