19 March 2011

Indian Ocean Tuna Commission Session in Colombo to Addres Fisheries Concerns. Fisheries Sector Contribution to Sri Lanka's Economic Growth Highlighted

19th March 2011, www.dailynews.lk

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.

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