June 17, Colombo: During the first quarter of 2014, Sri Lanka's fish exports increased 20 percent compared to the same period last year, the Minister of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development Dr. Rajitha Senaratne said.
Sri Lanka earned US$ 95.68 million (Rs. 12.384 billion) from the fish exports in the first quarter of 2014 making the fisheries sector the top export income earner in the agricultural sector. In agriculture export, it is an increase of 19% while exports of the main crop tea increased 14.5%.
During the last four years, the income derived from fish exports had gradually increased along with the fish exports.
Accordingly, during the first quarter of the year 2010, the income from fish export was Rs. 5.7 billion, Rs.6.85 million in 2011, Rs.9.0 billion in 2012 and Rs.10.2 billion last year.
Similarly, during the last three years, the annual fish exports increased systematically. During 2011 fish exports earned Rs.21.9 billion, Rs.26.4 billion in 2012 and Rs. 31.8 billion in 2013.
The Fisheries Minister said his Ministry has taken measures to improve the fish exports further and expects to earn Rs. 40 billion by the end of 2015 and Rs.50 billion by 2016.
Speaking of the developments in the fishing sector, the Minister said the annual fish production has been increased from 339,000 metric tons in 2010 to 513,000 metric tons in 2013
There were only, 43,000 trawlers in 2010 and the number has increased up to 62,000 trawlers by 2013 while the number of fishermen increased from 170,000 to 222,000 in the three years. Also the Ministry has been able to increase the exports by 39% during that time while the imports have been reduced by 17%.
Similarly the daily fish consumption per head had been increased from 30 grams up to 41.5 grams. The country aims to increase the consumption and set a target of up to 50 grams by the end of 2014 and up to 60 grams by the end of 2016 as a measure to eliminate malnutrition among the people.