‘Challenges and issue faced by Tuna industry’:
Explore fisheries export market
Text of the speech by Fisheries and
Aquatic Resources Minister Dr Rajitha Senaratne at 11th INFOFISH World
Tuna Trade Conference held on September 13, 2010 at Bangkok, Thailand
The 11th INFOFISH World Tuna Trade Conference and its significance
bears ample testimony by holding the conference since 1986 every other
year. I have perused your past records and this conference has proven to
be very successful and I am pleasantly surprised to witness 800
delegates from world over who are present at this important event.
Minister Dr Rajitha Senaratne
Also I am thankful to INFOFISH for having themed this conference on
‘Challenges and Issue Faced by the Tuna Industry’ which is timely.
I would like to focus on the history of Tuna industry and the
measures that have been taken by my Ministry towards the sustainability
of Tuna industry in Sri Lanka and our compliance with illegal unreported
and unregulated fishing that Sri Lanka has been alleged for not being
complied with and also the obligations and aspirations of my Ministry to
develop the Tuna fishing in Sri Lanka.
Tuna fishery is among the oldest industries in the world and there
are evidence that Atlantic Bluefin Tuna fishing had been done in the
Until the second part of 20th Century, fishing was carried out mostly
on coastal areas and industrial fisheries have begun during the 1940s
and 1950s, as a result of increasing demand for canned tuna. In the late
1950s, this industry had been started in the Atlantic Ocean and after
1952, it has expanded rapidly into oceanic areas initially in the
Pacific and in the 1980s, further expanded to the Indian Ocean.
In speaking of Tuna fishery in Sri Lanka, we produce about 250,000
metric tons annually and provides direct employment to about 675,000
people comprising 175,000 in active fishing, 100,000 in associated
service activities and 400,000 in the fish trade to provide livelihood
to a population over 20.50 million.
Our export industry that caters to all key markets across the globe
with an annual export of US D 180 million of fisheries products is an
extremely important revenue stream to the country as well to the
livelihood of those who are in the trade. We are extremely committed to
this industry and its development so that the industry could develop to
USD 1.00 billion in exports by 2016.
Our per capita consumption of fish in 2009 was 11.4 kg. My Ministry
is working towards increasing this at least to 22 kg by 2013 and to
achieve this target, total annual fish production would be increased up
to 686,000 mt.
Following Obligations and Aspirations have been identified to follow
in achieving the target of increasing the fish production and it is my
pleasure to present this information to you.
Sri Lanka is historically a Tuna fishing nation and has played a
vital role in the tradition and culture. Thus, we are bestowed with the
rights to continue in expansion of the Tuna fishing with the adequate
understanding of conservation and biological sustainability of the
We possess the necessary infrastructure and skilled human resources
to sustain the Tuna fishing industry which has spread through the coast
line of 1,760 km which is the second largest coast line in South Asia.
It is to be highlighted the fact that a highly reputed market in
Europe, Japan and the USA for Tuna production has been developed by us.
As a responsible fishing nation, relevant conventions and regulations
have been incorporated into the national legislation for better
management in fishing industry.
The Indian Ocean, the smallest of the ocean, surrounded by majority
of developing states of Asia and Africa, some of which are among the
least developed with the largest single concentration of the world’s
population, is vital in terms of dependence for nutritional needs,
transport, communication and security which have increased competition
for access to resources and maritime activities.
As fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development Minister, I took part
at KOBEII conference held in July this year in Brisbane and Sri Lanka
could not participate for IOTC sessions for over last four years which
has led to a lot of misunderstanding with the member countries of OITC.
The reason for not participating is well-known as my country has
engaged in a terrible war against terrorism for 30 years and our
government has given the priority to combat the war situation through
This meeting was very useful particularly to Sri Lanka as we have
been able to reiterate that our country is in full compliance with the
aspirations of the IOTC as well as the IUU regulations.
My Ministry took every effort required to ensure that the country was
prepared to meet the IUU regulations that was effected on January
As a responsible fishing nation, our laws and by-laws as well as the
framework in which the industry operates, have been established well
ahead under the Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Act of 1996. Therefore,
IUU compliance is inevitable. Let me also shift to a slightly different
note to express my pleasure in meeting the Secretary General of IOTC,
Alej (h) andro at the last KOBE II conference in Brisbane and later he
further paid an official visit to my country in the same month of July
where we have further strengthened our relationship with IOTC. It is
unfortunate as we missed his company this time as he could not
participate at the conference due to health reasons.
I am happy to mention that we could resolve all issues with IOTC and
they have gone to the extent of sending a compliance coordinator to Sri
Lanka to facilitate the system in reporting to IOTC and regulating
vessels, even though we have been adhering to these formalities which we
have not reported to the IOTC.
Further, our fishermen have been charged with illegal fishing around
British Isles. But I have explained in my meeting with the Secretary
General of IOTC and as he agreed, those fishermen have swayed into these
areas because of lack of an efficient Vessel Monitoring System to
communicate when they enter into territorial waters of other countries.
I am confident on implementing a more sophisticated Satellite system
before end of this year as my Ministry is in the process of negotiating
with several companies.
I should emphasize that we are in the process of strengthening the
following measures immediately to ensure the long-term sustainability of
* To expedite the procedures to implement the VMS as stated earlier
to all multiday boats.
* To implement offshore fleet development plan.
* Upgrading and improving data collection and reporting system
especially for offshore resources.
* To strengthen Port State Measures by giving more strength to fish
* To strengthen Flag State Measures by amending present act to
provide authority to fish in high seas, to conduct awareness programs to
stakeholders and authorities on duties and responsibilities as a flag
* Sri Lanka is committed to working with the IOTC as well as to be a
responsible fishing nation.
It is my fervent duty also to thank Fisheries Department in Thailand,
Food and Agricultural Organization, IOTC and other co-organizers who
collaborated with INFOFISH to hold this conference and exhibition.