June 05, Colombo: Sri Lanka needs to increase production of fish to meet the protein requirement of the public while paying attention not to deplete resources, Fisheries and Aquatics Resources Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne said.
Addressing the 18th Session of the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) of the Food and Agriculture Organization at the BMICH, in Colombo, the Minister explained that fish provides over 70 percent of the animal protein intake of Sri Lankans and although the per capita intake of seafood has gone up over the years, it is still below the recommended requirement for the people.
At present Sri Lankans consume 45 gram/ day but it is far below the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended intake of 60 grams/day, and therefore, there is a need to increase production from both capture and culture fisheries to feed the population, according to the Minister.
Minister Senaratne explained that in order to meet the target, Sri Lanka has to increase fish production to 686,000 metric tons by 2016, from the present level of little over 500,000 tons.
He explained that the North and the East accounted for about half of the country's fish production in the 70s, but due to the three decade long war against terrorism, the fish production from these areas drastically dropped.
"Our government is now doing all what it can, to redevelop these areas through improved infrastructure, and reestablishing the agricultural and fisheries sectors to former glory, or even to a higher pedestal," the Minister said.
Speaking of food security and resources, the Minister said a solid plan of action is urgently needed to prevent the rapid rate of degradation and destruction in the environment, and the apparent depletion of marine fish resources.
In this regard, the Minister said the recommendations of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Expert Panel is food for thought for all policy makers.
The FAO recommends strengthening the capacity of developing countries to negotiate better terms in fishing agreements to protect the food security and nutrition of their populations and recognizing the contribution of small-scale fisheries to food security and nutrition, take note of their unique characteristics in the design and implementation of all national and international policies and programs related to fisheries.
The conference held from 01st -5th June addressed current Conservation and Management Measures, reforms of the IOTC and proposals to revise the IOTC Rules of Procedure.