Sri Lanka ventures into offshore fish farming

24 February 2014 09:53 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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Oceanpick (Pvt.) Ltd, a local company seeking to pioneer sustainable marine aquaculture, recently installed the country’s first sea cage, initiating offshore fish farming off the Eastern coast of Sri Lanka.

 Accordingly, the first hundred Barramundi (Modha) fish were released into the installed cage, located in China Bay, Trincomalee. Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development Minister Rajitha Senaratne graced the event of releasing the first set of Barramundi into the cage.

Fish farming is the principal form of aquaculture, while the other methods used fall under mariculture. Offshore fish farming involves raising fish in tanks or enclosures, usually for consumption.

Sri Lanka, a virgin country to this industry, has become a place of interest mainly due to the unspoilt waters off Trincomalee, sea current and perfect weather. Oceanpick identifies these conditions as extremely favourable to harvest Barramundi.

According to Oceanpick, firstlings are raised in numbers feeding them with fish food and other nutrients in tanks and later they are released to the cages in the ocean. After nine to 12 months, the Barramundi released into these cages will be harvested for consumption.

Currently, Oceanpick is led by its founder Director Irfan Thassim with his partners Kames Fish Farming Ltd located in the West coast of Scotland and Aberdeen Holding, a privatelyowned family business. The initial investment for the project is estimated at US $ 4 million and already US $ 1.5 million has been spent on the state-of-the-art equipment required.

Thassim said after scouting Trincomalee he figured that the ocean there will provide the ideal breeding ground for the fish. The ample labour available in the area was an added advantage, he said.

“I feel that this is indeed a victory for the entire fishing industry in Sri Lanka,” he remarked.

Meanwhile, Cabinet Minister Senaratne said Sri Lanka’s fish production has increased by 176 metric tons from 2009 to 2013. He also said the number of vessels used for fishing and the multi-day boats have gone up by 14,000 and 1,400, respectively, while the number of active fishermen increased by 51,000 during the same period.

The minister also said the current daily fish consumption per person is around 40 grams and the target would be to bring it up to 60 grams.
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