Two fish canning plants are to be built in Sri Lanka next year to supply both the export and domestic markets, Fisheries Minister Rajitha Senaratne said.
By the end of next year, we aim to have a local canned fish industry, he told a news conference.
Two exporters are ready to open two canning factories. They will export part of their production and sell the rest in the local market, the Minister said.
Minister Seneratne said the government aims to increase fish production to around 500,000 tonnes in 2011 and the increased supply would bring down fish prices.
Sri Lanka produced 293,170 MT of fish in 2009 and has set a target of 349,300MT for this year but is unlikely to reach it.
Total national marine fish production up to October 2010 is 265,500MT, up 11 percent in the same period in 2009.
The fishing industry is vital to individual livelihoods of Sri Lankans and fishing plays an important role in Sri Lanka’s national economy.
Fish production has been increasing since the three-decade conflict ended in May 2009. In January 2010 the Government lifted restrictions on fishing in the seas off the Eastern coast and in June 2009 fishing restrictions in north also removed.
According to latest figures released by the Department of Census and Statistics in 2010, the marine fish production increased by 134.1 percent in the Northern Province and by 45.8 percent in the Eastern Province while overall fish production in other regions except the North and the East decreased by 2.1 percent in the second quarter as more fishermen from the South migrated to North
Fisheries sector has also emerged as an important source of foreign exchange through the export of several items of high value fish and fishery products, such as chilled and frozen tuna, and other marine products such as shrimp, lobsters, shark fins and sea cucumber. The main markets are EU, China, Japan, Singapore and the USA. Nearly 70% of Sri Lanka’s seafood exports come to Europe and it had grown fourfold between 2004 and 2009. Sri Lanka is the market leader in yellow fin tuna imported by the EU, enjoying 40% of the market share.