Aug 23, Colombo: Dilip Wedaarachchi, State Minister of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development, yesterday laid the foundation for the construction of a Rs. 50 million Marine Aquaculture Research Center at the premises of the National Aquatic Resources Development and Research Agency (NARA).
The lack of such a center for marine aquaculture research has hampered the research and once the center is established the obstacles for the research can be overcome, the NARA said.
With the establishment of the new research center, all facilities will be provided for breeding marine ornamental fish, sea leeches, shrimp breeding, seaweed cultivation and research.
Minister Wedaarachchi, NARA Chairman EASK Edirisinghe and Managing Director Nipun Soysa participated in the foundation stone laying ceremony.
Speaking at the ceremony, Minister Wedaarachchi said the establishment of the center is a huge achievement for the industry.
"The ornamental fish industry contributes about three percent to the national economy. But so far, only fish caught from sea have been exported. With the establishment of the new research center, it will be able to breed and export the marine ornamental fish. This is a major improvement in our export sector. "
He said NARA is like the heart of the fisheries industry and "the government has rightfully recognized that it is our responsibility and duty to protect this heart enhancing its resources and provide the necessary research support."
The Minister emphasized that a program is needed to accurately educate the fisheries community as well as the entire public on NARA's research findings.
“The right understanding among public on innovations can accelerate the growth of this industry. Also, the services provided by the institute will be invaluable to the students studying in the universities," he said.
The Minister also emphasized the need to protect the marine environment to enhance fish breeding and commended NARA for its contribution to enlighten the fisheries community.
“About 5000 multi-day and one-day boats go to sea daily for fishing. Each vessel carries a large quantity of water bottles and food. But the problem is the waste material is not brought back to land. As a result, our fish population is decreasing day by day because plastic bottles, nets, and other material get stuck in coral reefs and pose a threat to corals and the sea fish breed near coral reefs," he explained.
"NARA's research has better understood this threat to coral as well as the threat to fish breeding. Therefore, NARA's commitment and contribution towards protecting our valuable industry is highly appreciated," said State Minister Wedaarachchi.