Feb 19, Colombo: Sri Lanka's fisheries sector, which provides employment for about 600 000 people - nearly 10% of the total labor force and a quarter of agricultural sector's employees, forms an essential pillar to the country's food security by supplying more than 60% of the animal proteins consumed by the population. In addition, the sector is also a significant source of revenues in foreign currencies for Sri Lanka.
According to the Sri Lankan Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Economic Affairs, Livestock Development, Irrigation and Fisheries & Aquatic Resources Development, post-harvest losses (the deterioration of the product occurring between the catch of the fishes and their sale to consumers) reach 40%.
In order to reduce these losses, the French Agency for Development (AFD) has expressed willingness to finance a program to rehabilitate existing fishing harbors and to enhance their management as well as that of aquatic resources, the French Embassy in Colombo said.
The feasibility study of this program has been launched on February 15th, 2019 during a visit to the Galle fishery harbor by Eric Lavertu, French Ambassador to Sri Lanka and the Maldives, Martin Parent, AFD Country Director, and S. Ruwanchandra, Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Economic Affairs, Livestock Development, Irrigation and Fisheries & Aquatic Resources Development.
The harbors of Galle, Beruwela, Puranawella and Kudawella, located in South-Western Sri Lanka, are targeted by this program. This first AFD intervention in the fisheries sector will mainly aim at improving the quality of products for export, without increasing the fishing effort. It will primarily focus on the improvement of operating methods and equipment between the landing and the first sale of the catches, within the port area.
The dynamic generated on the export value chain is expected to have a knock-on effect on the products intended for the national market. Besides, the full success of this project requires an effort from the private sector to modernize the fleet and improve the management of catches on board.
The expected impacts of the program are: sustainable development and growth of employment and income in the fisheries sector; increase of Sri Lanka's foreign currency income (thereby contributing to a healthier trade balance); improvement of products' quality and strengthening of food security; and promotion of aquatic resources sustainable management.
To reach the project objective, the following actions have been identified: (i) invest in two to four « green » fishery harbors, including infrastructure and equipment rehabilitation, ports reorganization; energy consumption reduction, and enhancement of on-site waste management; (ii) improve harbors operation from a technical, monitoring, financial and regulatory perspective; and strengthening of environmental impacts management; (iii) support the sustainable management of aquatic resources through a better monitoring of the marine population and by improving the products' traceability. This program represents a first investment estimated at euros 120 million.
The feasibility study, which is funded through a EUR 650,000 grant, will be carried out by a consortium led by COFREPECHE. This nine-month study will confirm the beneficiary harbors, the program's cost, its structuration and the associated work schedule.
This visit of Galle fishery harbor on March 15th, 2019 marks the launch of the consultant's first mission, which consists in the technical audit and condition assessment of existing infrastructure and equipment. During the next five months, the consultant will mobilize port civil engineers, technicians and divers, in order to perform detailed inspection of breakwaters, quays, jetties, auction halls and all existing equipment in the fishery harbors of Galle, Beruwela, Puranawella and Kudawella. Through this first mission, an accurate diagnosis of existing assets' condition, of damages caused by the 2004 tsunami, and an adequate rehabilitation and maintenance plan will be delivered to ensure robust and sustainable foundations for the future equipment financed by AFD.