Fisheries sector third top contributor – Rajitha

Economic growth:

Fisheries sector third top contributor – Rajitha

The fisheries sector is Sri Lanka’s third most important contributor
to economic growth. It is second only to agriculture and tourism,
Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development Minister Rajitha Senaratne
said.

“From time immemorial, we in the Indian Ocean region have treated our
marine resources with respect, taking what we need and not more, from
the vast sea areas we are endowed with,” he said.

“Things changed with population growth, industrialization,
technological developments and the market economies’ growth.
Technological developments in fishing in the 1960s and 1970s gave rise
to killing machines able to hunt fish with much speed and efficiency in
any ocean. It helped to take 1,000 tons in one fishing trip,” he added.

Minister Senaratne was addressing the inauguration ceremony of the
Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC)’s15th session held under Economic
Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa’s patronage at the Galle Face Hotel
yesterday.

“We are a nation in a hurry. The country has lost years of
development and billions of dollars as a result of three decades of
terrorism,” he said.

“Our population is trying to rise as one nation putting aside petty
differences. Under the leadership of President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his
vision articulated in the Mahinda Chintana Idiri Dakma, the whole
country is making steady progress,” the Minister said. The daily per
capita fish consumption in Sri Lanka is only 31 grams. It should
increase to 60 grams by 2013.

“Therefore there is a main need to increase catching capacity to make
available greater fish volume as a source of protein,” Senaratne said.

”We now have only 400,000 tons of fish production. To achieve the
above targets we have to increase Sri Lankan fish production to 686,000
metric tons by 2013. Sri Lanka has worked closely with IOTC and we wish
to work closely with IOTC family of nations towards realizing our goals
as well,” he added.

Sri Lanka has many problems to overcome. The government is doing all
what it can to do to solve those problems and redevelop remote areas
through improving infrastructure, reestablishing the agriculture and
fisheries sectors, the Minister noted.

“IOTC is taking place against the backdrop of a series of
international and regional fisheries concerns. We should work as a team
to address the issues facing the Indian Ocean stocks. All members of
this commission should take responsibility,” said IOTC Chairperson Rando
Paiyet.

He noted that we may not be able to change what others have done, but
we can change ourselves.

IOTC has to play a huge role in management of region’s tuna stocks
and should be given equal attention to international and regional
sectors.

In fact both sectors approximately harvest 50 percent of the tuna
resources, he said.

“There is a difficult task ahead of us. Let us not loose this
opportunity to make a difference in future of our children in working
together as one team despite our differences,” he said.

External Affairs Minister Prof G L Peiris, Fisheries and Aquatic
Resources Development Ministry Secretary Dr Damitha de Soysa and IOTC
Executive Secretary Alejandro Anganuzzui also participated.

RD

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